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Examples of Alternatives Considered but Eliminated from Detailed Analysis

Last Page Update: August 4, 2010

Examples of alternatives considered but eliminated from detailed analysis are provided for the following reasons: 

Ineffective (Would Not Respond to Purpose and Need)

Oil and Gas Leasing EA, Buffalo FO (2005)
Under this alternative, BLM would rescind the 285 leases for all development. Thus, no coal bed natural gas or conventional oil and gas resources would be developed. The decision to eliminate this alternative from detailed analysis was made because it does not respond to the purpose and need and its implementation would not allow BLM to implement its policy objectives for developing energy resources as described in Chapter 1.
 
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Oil and Gas Leasing EA, Buffalo FO (2005)
Comments submitted during scoping assert that phased development should be considered for the leases. Phased development involves controlling the development of the leases so that coal bed natural gas is produced only in one geographic area at a time. Once production is completed in an area, development would proceed to another geographic area.
 

The decision to eliminate this alternative from detailed analysis was made because phased development could not be reasonably implemented on the 285 leases. These leases are distributed across the entire Powder River Basin (Figure 1–1). Development has occurred around them and will continue to occur around the leases. In essence, the leases are too small and widely distributed for phased development to realistically limit development to a single geographic area at any specific time. Also, implementation of this alternative would not allow BLM to implement its policy objectives for developing energy resources as described in Chapter 1. 

Technically/Economically Infeasible
 
Genesis Project Draft EIS, Elko DO (2010)
Underground mining was evaluated as an optional mining method for recovery of ore associated with the Proposed Action. Underground mining methods are typically used when extracting deep, high-grade ore usually found in veins or narrow zones. 
 
Gold associated with the Genesis Project ore body is disseminated throughout a major portion of the rock mass. This type of ore body does not lend itself to underground mining methods because the volume of rock that would need to be removed and processed to recover the gold cannot economically be achieved without use of large-scale open pit mining methods. 
 
Other factors that affect the method and cost of mining an ore reserve include continuity of the mineralized material, depth to mineralization, and volume of material to be mined. The mineralized zone in the proposed pit expansion area meets economic reserve requirements for open-pit mining methods largely due to the fact that it is an extension of an existing pit where a major portion of the overburden has been previously removed. 
 

Development of the remaining ore reserves in the Genesis Pit by underground methods would be cost prohibitive and therefore economically unfeasible.

 
Inconsistent with Basic Policy Objectives for the Management of the Area

A no-new-roads alternative was considered but not analyzed because of safety concerns. In order to provide for traffic safety and logging safety, logging operations need to be away from the Cottage Grove-Lorane Highway and an existing powerline within the project area.

 
Implementation is Remote or Speculative
 
Genesis Project Draft EIS, Elko DO (2010)
Under this alternative, Newmont would be required to reduce a portion of the north highwall remaining in the Genesis Pit at the end of the mining operations to facilitate mule deer migration through the area. This alternative would involve placement of backfill against the northern highwall of the partially backfilled Genesis Pit at the end of mining. The backfill would be placed such that a 3.0H:1.0V slope configuration would be created linking the top of the highwall (pit rim) to the floor of the pit. Assuming that a portion of the northwest highwall receives this treatment, approximately 40 acres of land would be converted from highwall to a slope that would be revegetated. Approximately 4Mcy of waste rock would be rehandled by loading into haul trucks and dumped and graded to form the slope. 
 
An optional method would involve blasting a portion of the highwall to create a slot through the highwall extending from the floor of the pit to the upper pit rim. The slot would be approximately 100 feet wide and sufficient waste rock would be placed in the slot to create a 3.0H:1.0V slope extending to the floor of the pit. This treatment would result in converting approximately one acre of land from highwall to a slope that would be revegetated. 
 

This alternative was eliminated because the likelihood that mule deer would use this pathway during migration is unknown.

 
Substantially Similar in Design to Alternatives Analyzed
 
Genesis Project Draft EIS, Elko DO (2010)

BLM received a request to consider alternative locations for [potential acid generating] (PAG) cells. The request did not identify any impact to any resources that might occur due to the proposed location of the PAG cells. During review, BLM could not identify any potential impact to any resource due to the proposed location of the PAG cells, therefore development of alternate locations was determined to be unnecessary.

 
Substantially Similar Effects to Alternatives Already Analyzed
 
An alternative that would apply a density management thinning to approximately 30 acres along the south boundary of the project area was not considered because it has very dense, unstable stand conditions with high potential for windthrow if thinned.  A 30-acre windthrow would create high fire risk and would likely be salvage harvested, resulting in the same effects as described in Alternative 2.