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Permitting Council Announces First-Ever Critical Minerals Mining Project to Gain FAST-41 Coverage

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Permitting Council Press Office (

WASHINGTON (May 8, 2023) – Today, the Permitting Council announces the first mining project to receive FAST-41 coverage. The $1.7 billion South32 Hermosa Critical Minerals project is a proposed zinc and manganese mining and processing operation located 55 miles south of Tucson, Arizona. If permitted, the project would be the largest investment in Santa Cruz County, Arizona history.

“The Permitting Council is pleased to see the first-ever critical minerals mining project accepted for coverage under our unique program,” says Permitting Council Executive Director Christine Harada. “President Biden has committed to securing a domestic supply of responsibly sourced critical minerals, and manganese is a key part of the electric vehicle and stationary storage battery supply chain. The South32 Hermosa project is well-suited to receive the coordination, collaboration and transparency that infrastructure projects receive under the FAST-41 program, while ensuring a thorough environmental review and upholding strong environmental, labor, Tribal consultation, and community engagement standards.”

South32 operates several mines and is the largest producer of manganese ore in the world. If permitted, this project would contribute to the domestic availability of these critical minerals, which are used in products like electric vehicle batteries. 

“South32 hopes to set a new standard for sustainable mining at Hermosa, strengthening the domestic supply chain of critical minerals, growing the local economy, and improving lives in a community that needs more jobs and investment,” says South32 Hermosa President Pat Risner. “Becoming a covered FAST-41 project will make the rigorous federal environmental review and permitting process for this project more transparent, predictable, and inclusive for all stakeholders. We are committed to working closely with the US Forest Service, cooperating agencies, Native American tribes, and local stakeholders in Santa Cruz County in Arizona to develop this project in a way that benefits the community, minimizes impact on the environment, and creates opportunities across the region.” 

To learn more about the Federal environmental review and authorization process of the South32 Hermosa Critical Minerals project, visit the Permitting Council website

About the Permitting Council

Established in 2015 by Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41), the Permitting Council is a unique Federal agency charged with improving the transparency and predictability of the Federal environmental review and authorization process for certain critical infrastructure projects. The Permitting Council is comprised of the Permitting Council Executive Director, who serves as the Council Chair; 13 Federal agency Council members (including deputy secretary-level designees of the Secretaries of Agriculture, Army, Commerce, Interior, Energy, Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security, and Housing and Urban Development, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chairs of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation); and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The Permitting Council coordinates Federal environmental reviews and authorizations for projects that seek and qualify for FAST-41 coverage. FAST-41 covered projects are entitled to comprehensive permitting timetables and transparent, collaborative management of those timetables on the Federal Permitting Dashboard. FAST-41 covered projects may be in the renewable or conventional energy production, electricity transmission, surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resource, broadband, pipelines, manufacturing, mining, carbon capture, semiconductors, artificial intelligence and machine learning, high-performance computing and advanced computer hardware and software, quantum information science and technology, data storage and data management, and cybersecurity sectors. 


Last updated: Monday, May 8, 2023