NM COPPER CORPORATION RECEIVES COURT OF APPEALS DECISIONPosted: 12/14/2021 | Posted By: News Resource/Publisher
NM COPPER CORPORATION RECEIVES COURT OF APPEALS DECISION ON THE COMPANY’S WATER RIGHTS FOR ITS COPPER FLAT PROJECT
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, NEW MEXICO – (November 2, 2021) – New Mexico Copper Corporation (NMCC), owned by THEMAC Resources Group Limited (TSX VENTURE:MAC) (“THEMAC” or the “Company”), received a decision from the New Mexico State Court of Appeals on September 17, 2021, in regard to water rights for the Copper Flat Project in southern New Mexico.
In December 2017, the State of New Mexico Third District Court issued the decision that the Company’s full set of inchoate water rights were extinguished due to an interruption in a plan to develop the rights as required under the State’s Mendenhall Doctrine, and that the Company’s vested water rights at several mine site wells were forfeited or abandoned due to non-use. In an appeal of the District Court’s ruling filed by NMCC and Frost & Gray, the New Mexico State Court of Appeals reversed the Third District Court rulings regarding the loss of vested rights in the mine site wells, as well as the ruling measuring water rights at the Copper Flat open pit at 34 acre-feet for dust control. Both decisions have been remanded for reconsideration.
While affirming the District Court’s decision that the Company has not abandoned their vested water rights at the project’s primary water supply wells, the Court of Appeals decision also affirmed the lower court’s ruling regarding the loss of NMCC’s inchoate rights and upheld the decision to recognize 861.84 acre-feet from the mine water supply wells, an amount significantly lower than what is needed for the Company’s planned operation at Copper Flat. The Company’s appeal cited the Mendenhall Doctrine and argued the Company’s predecessors performed reasonable diligence in pursuing a plan to develop the inchoate water rights.
Cross appellants advocated for the reversal of the lower court’s finding that the Company had not abandoned its water rights. As noted above, the Court of Appeals rejected these arguments and affirmed the lower court’s decision.
“While we are pleased with the affirmances and partial reversals granted by the New Mexico State Court of Appeals, we are disappointed by the decision rendered on our Mendenhall Rights. We are continuing to secure additional water rights and believe there is still a path forward to a more sustainable future for New Mexico through New Mexico Copper Corporation and the Copper Flat Project. The Court of Appeal’s decision does not change our plans to continue advancing the project,” said Andrew Maloney, Chief Executive Officer of THEMAC.
Through the Copper Flat Project—located in Sierra County, New Mexico—NMCC will produce high quality metals to be used in the sustainable energy transition and other new green technologies. Following the ruling, the Company remains dedicated to securing the necessary water rights and to adhering to best management practices to limit water use, as well as to ensuring the environmental protections of the area’s water.
The Company’s hydrogeology consultant experts have prepared an extensive groundwater model to determine effects on neighboring wells and the groundwater table of the Rio Grande. The model, which has been reviewed by the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (NMOSE), shows no injury to other wells. Additionally, the Company has acquired a lease from the Jicarilla Apache Nation to release 3,000 acre-feet water per year into the Rio Grande to offset effects on the river that may occur when pumping the Company’s groundwater wells. Approved by the United States Department of Interior and the United States Bureau of Reclamation, use of the lease for offset purposes is pending approval from the State of New Mexico. An additional lease agreement that would change the point of diversion for 2,400 acre-feet of water permitted for multiple uses in the Lower Rio Grande Basin to the Copper Flat Mine is pending a hearing by the NMOSE Administrative Hearing Unit, currently scheduled for September 2022.
“Securing the additional water rights needed to support our plan for Copper Flat is our current focus, but New Mexico Copper Corporation and THEMAC remain committed to our overarching goal of ensuring the utmost protection for the environment and our fellow water users in the area,” added Maloney.
About THEMAC Resources Group Limited
THEMAC is a copper development company with a strong management team and as of May 18, 2011, a 100% ownership interest in the Copper Flat copper-molybdenum-gold-silver project in New Mexico, USA. We are continuing to advance the closed copper mine, Copper Flat, in Sierra County, New Mexico, toward production with innovation and a sustainable approach to mining development and production, local economic opportunities, and the best reclamation practices for our unique environment. The Company is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange (ticker: MAC) and has issued share capital of 79,400,122 common shares (fully diluted share capital 93,064,866).
For further information contact:
THEMAC Resources Group Limited
Chief Executive Officer
Phone: +1 505.382.5770