“The more information the better”
The Red Lady Coalition’s efforts to encourage Gunnison County entities to demand information based on a full-build-out scenario of U.S. Energy Corp./Kobex’s mining plans on Mt. Emmons are gaining steam.
The Gunnison RE1J school district board voted unanimously on Monday, November 26 to send a letter to the U.S. Forest Service asking the agency to evaluate the comprehensive impacts of the proposed molybdenum mine under a full-build-out scenario. Red Lady Coalition member Kimberly Barefield presented a position paper crafted by the coalition to the RE1J board during a previous meeting.
“I think we need to be careful that we’re just asking for information,” said board member Terri Wenzlaff, who was appointed as a new school board member that night.
Board president Anne Hausler agreed. “The more information the better,” she said. “We want to be in the position to serve kids.”
U.S. Energy Corp./Kobex Resources Ltd. community liaison Perry Anderson was present at the meeting but did not speak and was not addressed by the board.
Members of the Red Lady Coalition have been seeking support since early November, when the Gunnison City Council agreed to send a similar letter. Thus far, 29 entities have agreed to send letters or co-sign the coalition’s letter. The entities include the City of Gunnison, the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, the Crested Butte South Property Owners Association, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Trappers Crossing Homeowners Association, and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. Twenty-four other entities have pledged to do so as well.
“I’m very encouraged. It demonstrates solidarity and widespread desire that the mining companies tell the truth and provide full disclosure of proposed mining on Mt. Emmons,” said Red Lady Coalition steering committee member Denis Hall.
Red Lady Coalition steering committee member John Norton agreed. “The progress has been so strong because the position paper is so reasonable,” he said, summing up the message to the mining company as: “We want you to apply for the most likely mine you're going to build, not the smallest possible mine.”
The position paper was generated in response to the anticipated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis. A NEPA analysis is expected from the Forest Service when the mining company applies for the permits necessary to commence mineral extraction activity.
Because the planned mining activity will take place primarily on Forest Service land, the Forest Service is the federal agency that will conduct the most extensive environmental impact analysis of the proposed mining operations.
A NEPA analysis is usually required whenever a project of large scope and size with extensive impacts is proposed to take place on public lands.
Hall has said the mine is expected to apply for permission to mine only the richest part of the molybdenum ore deposit.
However, the group says the actual impacts of the mine could ultimately be far greater than initially forecast if the operation can profit from mining the surrounding lesser-grade ore.
U.S. Energy Corp./Kobex Resources Ltd. has stated its intention to submit its plan of operations to the Forest Service in the first quarter of 2008.