Public Notice


Published April 21, 2014
Expiration date: 5/21/2014

Issue Date: April 21, 2014
Comment Deadline: May 21, 2014
Corps Action ID Number: SAW-2013-01376

The Wilmington District, Corps of Engineers (Corps) received an application from The Quartz
Corp, USA, Peggy Dortch, seeking Department of the Army authorization to impact 1,220 linear
feet of stream, replace 60 linear feet culvert, temporarily impact 80 linear feet of stream, relocate
1,308 linear feet of stream, and fill 0.019 acre of wetland, associated with the Pine Mountain site
in Spruce Pine, Mitchell County, North Carolina.

Specific plans and location information are described below and shown on the attached plans.
This Public Notice and all attached plans are also available on the Wilmington District Web Site

Applicant: The Quartz Corp, USA
Attn: Mr. Todd Mickleborough
8342 Hwy 226 South / PO Box 309
Spruce Pine, North Carolina 28777
AGENT (if applicable): Wetland and Natural Resource Consultants
Attn: Ms. Jennifer Robertson
775 Haywood Road, Suite D
Asheville, North Carolina 28806

The Corps evaluates this application and decides whether to issue, conditionally issue, or deny
the proposed work pursuant to applicable procedures of the following Statutory Authorities:
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344)
Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403)
Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (33
U.S.C. 1413)

Directions to Site: To access the site from Asheville take I-26 North to Exit 9 (Burnsville Exit).
Turn right at the bottom of the exit ramp onto US Hwy 19 toward and through Burnsville and
Micaville. Turn left onto US Hwy 226 before reaching downtown Spruce Pine. Turn right onto
Pine Mountain Road and continue onto property. In general, the site is bordered to the North by
forested land; to the East by another mine and forested land; to the South by US Hwy 226 and
the North Toe River; and to the West by another mine plant, US Hwy 226, and forested land.
Project Area (acres): 755 Nearest Town: Spruce Pine

Nearest Waterway: Little Bear Creek River Basin: French Broad
Latitude and Longitude: 35.94799 ◦N, -82.08923 ◦W

Existing Site Conditions
The Pine Mountain Mine consists of a mining processing plant and associated facilities, multiple
sedimentation and settling ponds, maintenance buildings and associated facilities, an extensive
infrastructure of roads, existing mined areas, existing mine waste dump areas, existing tailings
management areas, logged areas, young forested areas, disturbed forested areas, streams, and
wetlands. Elevations on site range from approximately 3,520 feet on the Northern boundary of
the property to approximately 2,500 feet on the Southern boundary along the North Toe River.
The Little Bear Creek drainage on site ranges in elevation from 2,640 feet to 3,460 feet.

Applicant’s Stated Purpose
Based on information provided by the applicant the basic project purpose of the proposed The
Quartz Corporation’s Pine Mountain Mine project is to continue the development and operation
of a high quality quartz mining facility at the mine site and achieve design capacities at the three
mine waste dumps and the two tailing management areas to provide high quality quartz worldwide.

Project Description
The proposed project includes the continued development of existing and newly proposed
facilities within The Quartz Corp’s Pine Mountain Mine property in order to continue to mine
existing and new quartz reserves within the 755 acres of the Pine Mountain Mine property. The
project will impact 1,220 linear feet of stream, replace 60 linear feet of existing culvert,
temporarily impact 80 linear feet of stream, relocate 1,308 linear feet of stream, and impact
0.019 acre of wetlands. Impacts include two road crossings, resolution and stabilization of a
mining Notice of Violation (NOV) area, construction of one storm water treatment pond, and a
stream relocation which will result in 1,589 linear feet of stream (a 281 linear foot gain in new
stream). Any additional on-site infrastructure will be located in the road beds so no additional
impacts will be necessary for infrastructure such as power and water lines. The applicant
proposes to mitigate at 2:1 and 1:1 ratios per existing stream conditions. The project applicant
proposes to satisfy mitigation for the project (1,360 linear feet) through the Beaver Creek
Preservation Project provided by Unique Places.

Avoidance and Minimization
The applicant provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize
impacts to the aquatic environment:
The project in Spruce Pine is located in a very unique area of geologic resources within the
region. These geologic assemblages are globally limited to only a few regions. The Quartz
Corp’s Spruce Pine quartz is extremely important because it is purer than any other mine yet
discovered in the world. The location of the Pine Mountain Mine has been dictated by the
location of the high quality quartz resource that is being sought. The Mine has previously
produced quartz for other companies. Geotechnical fieldwork has indicated that there are
additional high quality quartz reserves at the property.
Not continuing to develop Pine Mountain Mine as a quartz quarry would not meet the Purpose
and Need of this project. Silica glass, which is fused from high purity quartz sand, offers a wide
range of exceptional optical, mechanical, and thermal properties essential for manufacturing
many highly technical products in areas such as semi-conductor technologies, PV solar
applications, high temperature lamp tubing, telecommunications, and optics (semiconductor,
solar, optical, and lighting industries). This high quality quartz is essential for many
manufacturing jobs and products world-wide.

Previous impact plans showed a significant upper reach of Little Bear Creek being impacted by
culverts in order to construct Mine Waste Dump – M2. If these impacts were pursued in the
permit application the road access to M2 would have been much easier to construct and on a
better gradient lower in the Little Bear Creek watershed. The close proximity of Pine Mountain
Mine to the processing plant was also important and key in The Quartz Corp’s decision to mine
at Pine Mountain Mine. Trucking material long distances is costly especially in mountainous
terrain. Impacts to Little Bear Creek have been avoided but for two road crossings to access high
ground at Mine Waste Dump – M2. One of these road crossings is located at an existing culvert
crossing so additional new stream impacts were avoided at Site #1.

The location of Pine Mountain Mine is the best mine property that meets the needs of The Quartz
Corp for mining high quality quartz. While The Quartz Corp does operate other mines in the
Spruce Pine area, the Pine Mountain Mine will provide a unique quality of quartz not often
found. The majority of the larger streams within the Pine Mountain Mine boundary have been
avoided. Most of the proposed impacts are at the headwaters of small, narrow seeps which will
minimize the fragmentation of any fish habitat.

Previous site plans that would have required over 3,100 linear feet of stream impacts would have
been easier to construct, closer in proximity to the mine area, and would have allowed shorter
trucking distances for the disposal of mine waste and delivery of products to the processing
plant. The requested impacts are the minimum necessary to allow for the development of Pine
Mountain Mine for the intended use. The 1,220 linear feet of stream impacts requested is a
reduction of over 61% from one of the previous impact plans that were reviewed earlier in the
permitting process by the regulatory agencies.

The initial layout of roads and facilities were designed to maximize site development and follow
ideal and fluid routes for truck and equipment travel within the mine. The site plan was then
revised multiple times to minimize stream and wetland impacts to the greatest extent practicable.
Some of the practices used to reduce impacts include using existing road corridors and existing
stream crossings, shifting road and developed area layouts upslope or upstream, building roads
and developed areas above endpoints, and avoiding the majority of the main stream at the mine,
Little Bear Creek.

The impacts at Sites 3 and 4 are necessary to resolve a Notice of Violation (NOV) through the
North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Land Quality. The NOV was
issued on December 12, 2008 because the area was being used for a mine waste dump but was
not approved as such in the existing mine permit. KT Feldspar had allowed an adjacent mining
company to use this area as a dump site but the dump location had not been approved as a waste
dump through the permit modification process. As a corrective action required by Land Quality
(LQ), KT Feldspar submitted a waste dump design and this design was approved by LQ and the
permit modified on May 9, 2013. The slopes at this area must be stabilized using the approved
design in order to comply with the conditions of the permit. The required stabilization efforts
will require impacts at Sites 3 and 4. These two impacts account for 74% of the requested

Compensatory Mitigation
The applicant offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable
functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Mitigation for the Pine Mountain Mine project is proposed to be permittee-responsible and
completed off site. Previous mitigation concepts considered an on-site restoration option at the
Pine Mountain Mine site. However, The Quartz Corp is no longer considering this option due to
lower functional uplift and lower ecological significance, particularly in comparison to the
proposed preservation project. After being presented with Unique Places’ preservation project,
The Quartz Corp, USA decided to forego the previously presented on-site restoration project due
to the fact that there are off site downstream property owners that could affect the benefit of the
restoration on-site. The preservation project will essentially function similar to a mitigation bank
where The Quartz Corp will pay for the required mitigation credits and therefore not have the
responsibility of construction and monitoring. All of the mitigation will be completed and the
credits will be released before any impacts take place with the proposed preservation project
which is also similar to a mitigation bank or the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement
Program (EEP).

The Quartz Corp proposes to mitigate for the 1,220 linear feet of stream impact that requires
1,360 linear feet of mitigation at the Beaver Creek Preservation (BCP) Project through high
quality preservation that will be protected by a conservation easement. The Quartz Corp has
contracted with Unique Places to develop the mitigation plan.

In summary, Beaver Creek Preservation Project will provide mitigation credits for the stream
impacts at Pine Mountain Mine by preserving approximately 16,000 linear feet of cold water
streams and approximately 4,500 linear feet of montane seeps that include an average buffer
width of 300 feet. Mitigation ratios at Beaver Creek Preservation Project range from 12:1 to 15:1
for the required mitigation of 1,360 linear feet. Approximately 215 acres will be included in the
conservation easement that will be recorded at the Beaver Creek Preservation Project. Final
stream lengths and conservation easement acreage will be determined by surveying.
The Beaver Creek Preservation Project will preserve excellent quality, cold water streams with
wide riparian buffers using a watershed approach which will improve protection of the Town of
Spruce Pine’s drinking water supply. The proposed mitigation site is within one mile of the Pine
Mountain Mine project within the adjacent watershed. The mitigation site has high ecological
value and significance as well as a high conservation priority per NC Department of
Environmental and Natural Resources, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and US Fish and
Wildlife Service

Essential Fish Habitat
Pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, this Public
Notice initiates the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) consultation requirements. The Corps’ initial
determination is that the proposed project would not effect EFH or associated fisheries managed
by the South Atlantic or Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Councils or the National Marine
Fisheries Service.

Cultural Resources
Pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Appendix C of 33
CFR Part 325, and the 2005 Revised Interim Guidance for Implementing Appendix C, the
District Engineer consulted district files and records and the latest published version of the
National Register of Historic Places and initially determines that:
Should historic properties, or properties eligible for inclusion in the National Register, be
present within the Corps’ permit area; the proposed activity requiring the DA permit (the
undertaking) is a type of activity that will have no potential to cause an effect to an
historic properties.

No historic properties, nor properties eligible for inclusion in the National Register, are
present within the Corps’ permit area; therefore, there will be no historic properties
affected. The Corps subsequently requests concurrence from the SHPO (or THPO).
Properties ineligible for inclusion in the National Register are present within the Corps’
permit area; there will be no historic properties affected by the proposed work. The Corps
subsequently requests concurrence from the SHPO (or THPO).
Historic properties, or properties eligible for inclusion in the National Register, are
present within the Corps’ permit area; however, the undertaking will have no adverse
effect on these historic properties. The Corps subsequently requests concurrence from the

Historic properties, or properties eligible for inclusion in the National Register, are
present within the Corps’ permit area; moreover, the undertaking may have an adverse
effect on these historic properties. The Corps subsequently initiates consultation with the

The proposed work takes place in an area known to have the potential for the presence of
prehistoric and historic cultural resources; however, the area has not been formally
surveyed for the presence of cultural resources. No sites eligible for inclusion in the
National Register of Historic Places are known to be present in the vicinity of the
proposed work. Additional work may be necessary to identify and assess any historic or
prehistoric resources that may be present.

The District Engineer’s final eligibility and effect determination will be based upon coordination
with the SHPO and/or THPO, as appropriate and required, and with full consideration given to
the proposed undertaking’s potential direct and indirect effects on historic properties within the
Corps-indentified permit area.

Endangered Species
Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Corps reviewed the project area, examined
all information provided by the applicant and consulted the latest North Carolina Natural
Heritage Database. Based on available information:

The Corps determines that the proposed project would not affect federally listed
endangered or threatened species or their formally designated critical habitat.
The Corps determines that the proposed project may affect federally listed endangered or
threatened species or their formally designated critical habitat. The Corps initiates
consultation under Section 7 of the ESA and will not make a permit decision until the
consultation process is complete.

The Corps is not aware of the presence of species listed as threatened or endangered or
their critical habitat formally designated pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973
(ESA) within the project area. The Corps will make a final determination on the effects of
the proposed project upon additional review of the project and completion of any
necessary biological assessment and/or consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and/or National Marine Fisheries Service.

Other Required Authorizations
The Corps forwards this notice and all applicable application materials to the appropriate State
agencies for review.

North Carolina Division of Water Resources (NCDWR): The Corps will generally not make a
final permit decision until the NCDWR issues, denies, or waives the state Certification as
required by Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (PL 92-500). The receipt of the application and
this public notice, combined with the appropriate application fee, at the NCDWR Central Office
in Raleigh constitutes initial receipt of an application for a 401 Certification. A waiver will be
deemed to occur if the NCDWR fails to act on this request for certification within sixty days of
receipt of a complete application. Additional information regarding the 401 Certification may be
reviewed at the NCDWR Central Office, 401 and Buffer Permitting Unit, 512 North Salisbury
Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27604-2260. All persons desiring to make comments regarding
the application for a 401 Certification should do so, in writing, by May 21, 2014 to:
NCDWR Central Office
Attention: Ms. Karen Higgins, 401 and Buffer Permitting Unit
(USPS mailing address): 1650 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1650
(physical address): 512 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27604
North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (NCDCM):

The application did not include a certification that the proposed work complies with and
would be conducted in a manner that is consistent with the approved North Carolina Coastal
Zone Management Program. Pursuant to 33 CFR 325.2(b)(2) the Corps cannot issue a
Department of Army (DA) permit for the proposed work until the applicant submits such a
certification to the Corps and the NCDCM, and the NCDCM notifies the Corps that it concurs
with the applicant’s consistency certification. As the application did not include the consistency
certification, the Corps will request, upon receipt, concurrence or objection from the NCDCM.
Based upon all available information, the Corps determines that this application for a
Department of Army (DA) permit does not involve an activity which would affect the coastal
zone, which is defined by the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Act (16 U.S.C. § 1453).

The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts
including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will
reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit
which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its
reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be
considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics,
aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife
values, flood hazards, flood plain values (in accordance with Executive Order 11988), land use,
navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water
quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of
property ownership, and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. For activities involving
the discharge of dredged or fill materials in waters of the United States, the evaluation of the
impact of the activity on the public interest will include application of the Environmental
Protection Agency’s 404(b)(1) guidelines.

Commenting Information
The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State and local agencies
and officials, including any consolidated State Viewpoint or written position of the Governor;
Indian Tribes and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this
proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to
determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this
decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water
quality, general environmental effects and the other public interest factors listed above.
Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) and/or an
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA). Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the
overall public interest of the proposed activity.

Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a
public hearing be held to consider the application. Requests for public hearings shall state, with
particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing. Requests for a public hearing shall be
granted, unless the District Engineer determines that the issues raised are insubstantial or there is
otherwise no valid interest to be served by a hearing.

The Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District will receive written comments pertinent to the
proposed work, as outlined above, until 5pm, May 21, 2014. Comments should be submitted to
Tasha Alexander, Asheville Regulatory Field Office, 151 Patton Avenue, Room 208,
Asheville, North Carolina 28801-5006, at (828) 271-7980.