A Mexican –based company, Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua (GCC), has filed a plan with the Billings Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management to explore the extent of a gypsum deposit in the foothills of the Pryor Mountains south of Gyp Springs Road and west of its intersection with Crooked Creek Road.

The environmental assessment is available for public comment until November 5.

The project proposes to drill 10 holes about 70 feet deep on 10 claims, which are on public domain land in southern Carbon County. BLM must approve the proposal and determine any mitigating requirements, as well as approve the plan of operation as meeting performance standards.

GCC is a multinational company, with plants in South Dakota and Colorado, but also owns another plant in Montana. GCC purchased the cement plant at Trident, Montana in 2018.. In total the company operates eight plants in the US and Mexico producing about 5.8 million tons annually.

Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate, which is widely mined and is used as a fertilizer and in manufacturing cement and is the main component in many forms of plaster, blackboard/ sidewalk chalk, drywall, etc.

The plan that BLM is considering would require that a paleontology consultant monitor any ground disturbance to mitigate potential damage to fossil resources that have been identified in the area. A botanist would also have to be onsite to oversee the protection of some rare plants that have been identified in the area, which BLM designated as of critical environmental concern and a natural area.

No drilling is proposed during the grouse’s mating and nesting season since the sage grouse is known to use the region.

The anticipated area that will be disturbed by the drilling is small – less than seven acres total, so the BLM is not proposing that any further impact study be required.

In June 2018, Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua received regulatory approval for the purchase of the cement plant from CRH in Trident, a gypsum mining operation near the headwaters of the Missouri River, which was started in 1908 by Don Morrison and a group of investors.

 Known then as the Three Forks Portland Cement Co., its production was used in many regional construction projects, including Holter Dam, Morony Dam, the Heart Mountain project in Wyoming, Fort Peck Dam, Grand Coulee Dam, and Polson Dam.

On Jan. 1, 1948, the Three Forks Portland Cement Company was consolidated into the nationwide Ideal Cement Co. In the 80s, Ideal Cement Co. sold the plant to a Swiss based cement company. In 1990, the plant at Trident was renamed Holnam, short for Holderbank North America. In 2002, the facility was again renamed, Holcim Trident Plant



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