The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the US Department of the Interior,  has given approval for the modernisation and expansion of the US Gypsum (USG) mine in southwestern Imperial County in California.

One portion of the project is located at the US Gypsum plant on Evan Hewes Highway in Plaster City, California, while the other portion is located at the US Gypsum quarry on Split Mountain Road, approximately 42km northwest of Plaster City.

Estimated to cost more than $110m, the project is expected to create 140 jobs over its operational life, while securing 400 existing jobs.

The project calls for the expansion of the existing gypsum mining operations and replacement of an existing waterline.

Gypsum mine expansion project includes construction of waterlines

It also includes construction of two new waterlines, one with electrical service between the quarry and a new well on private lands east of the quarry. The second waterline will be constructed between USG’s plaster city processing plant and Imperial Irrigation District’s water canal to the east.

Land and Minerals Management acting assistant secretary Casey Hammond said: “The U.S. Gypsum mine produces important resources that are essential for America’s economy and allow us to become less dependent on unreliable foreign sources.

“The Department of the Interior remains committed to supporting environmentally responsible mineral development on Federal lands.”

According to USG estimates, the mine will contribute $29m to the local economy annually. About 85% of the gypsum mine is used for wallboard as well as for cement and agriculture products, among others.

Recently, the BLM has given its approval for the construction of a 450MW Desert Quartzite Solar Project, to be located in Riverside County, California.

Desert Quartzite, a subsidiary of First Solar has secured permission to construct, operate, and maintain the solar project, which will be located on nearly 3,000 acres of public lands.