Base Metals

On Friday, the United States Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act by a margin of 89 to 11. Included in the act are land provisions that will be key to the development of two major copper projects in the United States.

Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol

On Friday, the United States Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a margin of 89 to 11. Included in the NDAA are land provisions that will be key to the development of two copper projects in the United States once the act is signed into law.

First, the Resolution copper project in Arizona, which is jointly owned by Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO,ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO) and BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP,ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT), has been depending on a key land swap in order to secure land next to the project. Rio has said that the expansion is necessary for getting the most out of Resolution, which is set to produce up to 1 billion pounds of copper per year.

Also affected by the NDAA’s passing is Nevada Copper (TSX:NCU), whose Pumpkin Hollow project is in Nevada. The Yerington Land Bill, included in the NDAA, will speed up permitting for Stage 2 of the project — it will allow the city of Yerington to purchase federal land for the project, moving it under state jurisdiction.

Resolution moving forward

The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act has been controversial in the past since it trades in protected land to be mined, as noted by The Huffington Post. However, the bill’s inclusion in the annual NDAA helped it get on the fast track for approval.

Resolution Copper Mining said in a statement that it is pleased that the bill passed in both houses “with strong bipartisan support.” Once the legislation is signed into law, the company intends to focus on necessary environmental and regulatory reviews and a comprehensive valuation appraisal of the deposit as required by Congress.

Resolution must complete a full environmental impact statement for the property before exchange of title.

Key development for Pumpkin Hollow

To be sure, Pumpkin Hollow isn’t quite as massive as Resolution. However, with 4.1 billion pounds of copper reserves to be recovered over a 22-year mine life, the project is certainly nothing to shake a stick at — and that’s not including a smaller Stage 1 mine that’s already under construction.

In contrast to the controversy surrounding the Arizona land swap, the Yerington bill has been viewed as positive for the local and state economies in Nevada, and has received strong support at all levels.

Senator Harry Reid commented, “[t]he Nevada legislation included in this package has been built on many years of hard work and collaboration by Nevadans, and I am proud to have worked with such a diverse set of people in my state to pass legislation that both protects some of our most spectacular places and strengthens our state’s economy,” according to The Reno Gazette.

Nevada Copper’s share price has gained roughly 33 percent since the company announced that the land bill would be added to the NDAA on December 3. At close of day on Friday, shares of Nevada Copper were selling for $1.54.


Securities Disclosure: I, Teresa Matich, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: Nevada Copper is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.

Related reading:

Rio Tinto and BHP to Finally Develop Massive Resolution Copper Mine

Nevada Copper Up 20 Percent — Key Land Bill Could Pass Next Week


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