CARSON CITY – Legislation that would provide for the transfer of federal land to the City of Yerington to expand a copper mining operation and create jobs was introduced today by Nevada U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller.
The Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act of 2012 would also create a new 48,000-acre wilderness area.
Separate legislation that addressed only the land transfer proposal has already passed the House primarily through the efforts of Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.
Reid wanted a wilderness component in the legislation as well, and last week the Lyon County Commission signed off on the proposed Wovoka Wilderness. Wovoka is the name of a Native American spiritual leader and father of the Ghost dance who was born and raised in the area.
“I am very happy to be part of this legislation which will create lots of jobs in Lyon County, which are so desperately needed,” Reid, D-Ne., said in a statement. “This bill also designates the Wovoka wilderness area, a place with special cultural and natural resources that are worthy of a high level of protection so future generations can continue enjoying them. It’s a bill that’s going to meet the needs of modern day Nevada.”
Heller, R-Nev., said: “Lyon County has the highest unemployment rate in the state and this legislation will bring more than 800 jobs to the area. Mining is a critical component of Nevada’s economy and we are fortunate to have resources in our own backyard for economic development.”
The City of Yerington and Lyon County are seeking the transfer to leverage the substantial infrastructure investments being made by Nevada Copper at its nearby Pumpkin Hollow project.
Nevada Copper, which broke ground on the Pumpkin Hollow project in February, invested nearly $50 million in exploration to justify the $1 billion investment necessary to fully develop the mine. The mine will produce 250 to 300 million pounds of copper per year.
The initial shaft sinking is already producing economic benefits with the creation of 30 to 40 jobs. An additional 250 to 500 construction jobs could start in 2013 if the land transfer is successful. At full operation in 2015-2016, Pumpkin Hollow is projected to employ 750 to 800 people directly.
The legislation will allow the city of Yerington to partner with Nevada Copper to develop roughly 12,500 acres of land surrounding the Pumpkin Hollow project site, which is already creating jobs in Nevada. The lands conveyed by this bill will also be used for industrial, recreation, and infrastructure purposes that will create sorely needed jobs and economic development for Yerington.
The House version of the bill passed in June.