Saline Preservation Association

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Jukebox Mark

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Posts: 71
As I understand it, the area proposed for exploration is on the footprint of a previous operation which the BLM already had cleaned up using a reclamation bond filed by the previous mining operation. To that extent it was proof that the bond system can work.

Having said that, the same person who shared this information with me also told me that the weakness in the system was that there was enough turnover in the BLM office that no one there remembered that a reclamation bond had been filed! But he did, and told them to go look in the file!

Ultimately economics keeps a lot of these operations from actually turning dirt. And insisting that the BLM institute additional safeguards is one way of tipping the economic scale. So if you want to be effective, ask specific questions about the plants, the birds, the soil, the dust control, and have the BLM point you to the relevant permit sections and stipulations. They retain the right to modify permit conditions based on new information and changed circumstances.

Perhaps what we hold most in awe about nature is its majestic indifference to humanity.- Mark Algazy 

Posts: 10
If you oppose this project, comments at this stage have to be centered around environmental concerns.  Saying "I don't like it" or "the mineral is too low grade to recover" will not work.  And, at this stage, this is exploration, not mining, if I am correct.  If they find recoverable resources, they have the right to recover, under conditions, this being America under the 1872 Mining Act

Possible topics:
Negative impacts on the desert--roads, dust, visual impacts, increased traffic, increased visitation to a sensitive area, gaping wounds on the desert
Impacts on wildlife--Desert tortoise, birds (sage hen, if present), Desert Bighorn, Rare&Endangered
Historical--disturbing Native American sites, early mining sites, historical sites
Impact of mining--roads, scars of prospect pits, open pits or strip mining, visual impacts, tailing/waste piles producing dust/runoff/leaching of products
Impact on plants--Rare & Endangered plants present? Joshua Tree forest
Impact on groundwater (it is desert, I know, this is a stretch)--wells for operation drying up springs that wildlife depend on, release of waste product into groundwater, hydrocarbon contamination of soil and groundwater from machinery, trucking in water from where? (impacting other areas)
Impossible to restore desert after this kind of use, this area deserves stringent standards due to proximity to Nat'l Park, BLM Special Use Area, unique whatever (details discovered by research, see above)

The mining company, of course, will claim these impacts are minor and can be mitigated by a token effort.  Insist on stringent standards, this is a unique area deserving protection.  Some of these operators are only interested in mining the stockholders pockets.  I was involved (in opposition) with one operation, in which they claimed, in effect, that the old-time miners didn't notice the high-grade they were tripping over on their way to mine the low-grade.(really?? I don't think so).  That operation fizzled after they mined the stockholders pockets for a while, never proceding past exploration (although, reading their prospectus, it was going to be the next Mother Lode).  These comments are not environmental, though, and do not affect the permitting process. 

If they are Canadian, look them up on the Vancover stock exchange, look up their history and past performance.  The Vancover exchange is the Canadian speculative mining exchange. 

The best place to find gold/silver is where it has been found before.  Placer or lode deposits? (in general, placer=strip, usually mechanical seperation, lode=pit, usually chemical seperation)

Claiming cyanide tailings themselves are a toxic waste is a stretch.  The open ponds (in heap-leach) can be toxic, especially to migratory birds.  Cyanide itself is very unstable in the environment, it has to be buffered within a narrow range of alkaline pH, and it degrades in rainwater (which is slightly acidic, due to CO2 in atmosphere producing weak carbonic acid in rainwater).  Toxic products can be produced in tailings/waste piles, from leaching/oxidation/reduction/etc.  Cyanide is very efficient is stripping metals out.  Most cyanide tailings piles I am familiar with are barren quartz sand (in some areas, making sand dunes).  They are not going to haul cyanide around in the back of dump trucks (not even the Canadians).  Cyanide is expensive and highly regulated, and they are going to recover/regenerate as much as possible.  After all, it contains the product they are after.


Posts: 4
In the case of Mariposa, the most new proposal was nearly passed, until local activists pointed out that the company would be creating an open pit of toxic waste that would be left behind from the separation process of the fine gold from the ore using a cyanide compound, in addition to shaving off a mountain and leaving a gaping wound on the landscape.

Posts: 49
I'll respectfully disagree about "slow down here".  This is classic foot in the door problem.  Let them drill for survey purposes and already you are acknowledging the area is fit for mining.  Why allow a survey if you won't allow a mine?  Very much in for a penny in for a pound.

Indeed it would take some time and many steps before the company would decide whether the site is commercially worth exploiting with a full scale mining operation but fundamentally you kill this *NOW* in the permitting process for the survey.  You don't wait around assuming you can kill it later or the process will get out in front of you.

Posts: 32
I suggest everyone slow down here and understand how this process works. As brief background, I do some work as a biological consultant including doing wildlife surveys as part of mine permitting. This is the first step for exploration, which could including seismic surveys, surface chip samples, and/or drilling. They will need some environmental clearance for even that (e.g., they do not let you crush bird nests). If the company finds it worth moving forward then more step out drilling will take place over probably 1-2 years. As this ramps up then you have more biological surveys, water quality surveys, archeology, etc. This will be primarily a federal issue because it is BLM, but California agencies will have input (and to say it is easy to mine in California is about as incorrect as you can get!). So, you are looking at a long-term process of often up to 5+ years if they decide to try to actually mine. I do suspect it would be surface mining but if they hit high grade they will go underground. And there will be a formal process to provide written input to the BLM which the company must address. So not saying a mine is a "good idea", but you are not going to see 100+ ton haul trucks on the road anytime soon!
PS: unless I misunderstand the comment, surface mining for fine gold (which is mostly what is left out there) and leaching with cyanide is hardly a new process). 

Posts: 4
When a Canadian mining company proposed a gold mining operation in Mariposa years ago, it was a strip-mining proposal for fine gold, which is the new mining methodology...They intended to process the fine gold with cyanide, which they would also be transporting on county roads and state highways, with possible deadly consequences in the event of an accident...Not sure if it's the same company or not. But they clearly had no concern for the environment in California...nor for environmental health or safety in the community.
sunny okanogan

Posts: 19
thanks for the info. as i understand it mining companies pay about $2.50/ acre for mineral rights, meanwhile the cost for nat. parks are going up to $70/ car.
Desert hiker

Posts: 3
Something to keep on your radar screen.  Located on the south end of Saline Valley in the area of Hunter Mtn. on BLM land.

Project Description:
The BLM is responding to Silver Standard’s proposal for exploration as directed by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and by the Surface Management regulations (43 CFR § 3809). It is the BLM's purpose to comply with this need while ensuring compliance with applicable land use management plans, protection of resources, and compliance with federal and state laws related to environmental protection (43 C.F.R. § 3809.420).
Project Location:
The Project is located on unpatented lode mining claims on public lands administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Ridgecrest Field Office (BLM) in Inyo County, California. The proposed Project is located within section 32 of township 16 south 39 north, Mount Diablo Meridian and sections 3, 4, 9, and 10 of Township 17 South, Range 39 East, Mount Diablo Meridian. The site is accessed from Saline Valley Road, north of Highway 190. A BLM-managed dirt road is used to access the Project area from the Saline Valley Road.

As with all environmental proceedings, if you want to make an impact you need to get involved in the early stages.  Let the BLM know you want to be on the distribution list for all the NEPA activities.


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