VANE Minerals (US) LLC - Forest Service Permitting, Northern Arizona and Regulatory Update
* Action against VANE's exploration in Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest dismissed by U.S. District Court of Arizona following a settlement agreement
* Forest Service to commence Environmental Impact Statement ('EIS') process - final EIS and record of decision are scheduled to be completed in December, 2009
* U.S. Secretary of the Interior refuses request from U.S. House of Representatives Committee for emergency withdrawal from the initiation of rights under mining law on public lands
* The Department of Interior gives notice of action to remove regulations which provide for emergency withdrawals
Forest Service Permitting
VANE Minerals announces that a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona that sought to stop the Company's exploration drilling program in the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest has been dismissed by a settlement agreement filed with the court.
The action was filed by three environmental groups after the Forest Service approved VANE's drilling program and the dismissal is based on an agreement between the Forest Service and the environmental groups with VANE's concurrence. By the terms of the agreement, the Forest Service will prepare an EIS to assess the level of environmental impact, if any, exploratory drilling will have in the area. The EIS will include the seven exploration sites within the area VANE proposes to work on.
A notice of intent was published in the Federal Register on October 10, 2008. The notice indicates that a draft of the EIS is expected to be available in March, 2009. Following completion of the draft, an additional notice will be published to provide a period for public review of the document. The final EIS and record of decision is scheduled to be completed in December, 2009.
Proposal of Change of Regulations
On June 19, 2008, the Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives (the 'House Committee') under an authorisation given by a 1976 Act of Congress ordered the Secretary of the Interior to withdraw approximately one million acres near the Grand Canyon but outside of the national park, from the initiation of rights under the mining law on public land. The Secretary of Interior refused on the grounds that the House Committee lacked a quorum for the action. The same three environmental groups have now challenged the decision by the Secretary of the Interior and filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on September 29, 2008. In a response to the action by the House Committee, the Department of the Interior has, by a notice published in the Federal Register on October 10, now provided notice of a proposed action to remove regulations that provide for emergency withdrawals. The stated reasons for the rule change were that existing authority provided sufficient protection and that constitutional questions had been raised over the authority of a congressional committee giving direction to the Secretary of the Interior.