(Jul 20, 2007)

Environmentalists fight mining companies and 1872 law

By John Miller
From AP

But Hecla Mining's Chief Executive Officer Phillips Baker said many mining companies have acted responsibly under the existing law.

''We've spent about $40 million in closure costs and reclamation (at Grouse Creek),'' Baker said. ''Within Idaho, since 1969, there has not been a company that has started a mine and closed it where taxpayer money has been required. I would say we've had an extremely effective system of monitoring and regulating the opening and closing of mines in the state of Idaho.''

Environmentalists counter that money paid by companies to remediate mining pollution on public land won't be enough to cover future catastrophes, in Idaho or elsewhere. They point to cleanups in states including Montana, where estimated remediation costs at an open-pit complex near Ft. Belknap exceed the company's bonds by $33 million.

The West has changed, they say; so should the 1872 mining law.

''The 1872 mining law was written to help promote the development of the West,'' said John Robison, of the Idaho Conservation League that's fighting the Atlanta mine. ''As you can see, the West has already been developed.''


On the Net:

National Mining Association


Idaho Conservation League

Hecla Mining

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