Toronto-based Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX)(TSE:ABX) said Wednesday that a US federal agency has removed certain operating restrictions for its Cortez Hills mine in Nevada, and approved an environmental study for the project.
The world's largest producer of gold said that the federal Bureau of Land Management issued a record of decision, approving the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Nevada gold mine.
Cortez Hills is located near Mt. Tenabo, a sacred site for American Indian tribes, who had concerns that Barrick's plans for expansion would drain water from the area. The tribes fought in court to halt Barrick's production at Cortez.
As a result, since April last year, Cortez Hills has been operating under an injunction from the US District Court, which restricted the transportation of ore and the pumping of water pending completion and approval of the environmental study. The decision today lifts these restrictions.
The entire Cortez property, which includes the Cortez Hills mine, is expected to produce between 1.3-1.45 million gold ounces in 2011, at total cash costs in the range of $235-$265 per ounce.