Please visit the website for the HB Solar Solution Mine Project. The site provides background information on the project and progress on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulatory approval process.
We continue to prepare for construction of the HB Solar Solution mine, a project to develop and build a solution mine combined with solar evaporation ponds.
The current schedule for receiving the Record of Decision on the project remains in the first quarter of 2012. As we move closer to the expected Record of Decision date, we have updated the project cost estimates to incorporate changes in scope, cost escalations related to commodity and inflationary effects and consideration of the items described as alternatives within the published draft Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS").
The Board of Directors recently approved the updated authorization for expenditure associated with the HB Solar Solution Mine, estimated to be between a $200 and $230 million capital investment.
As of September 30, 2011, we have invested $30.5 million to date in engineering, design, permitting and equipment. To date, we have received the ground water discharge permit for the HB Solar Solution mine that was approved by the New Mexico Environment Department ("NMED") in July 2010 and, in July 2011, we received the air quality permit for the mill.
Once all of the necessary regulatory permits and approvals are obtained, construction will begin promptly, and first production is expected to result approximately 18 months later, with ramp up to full production expected in the succeeding year, assuming the benefit of an average annual evaporation cycle applied to full evaporation ponds.
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