Amenity economy vs. mining—no contest
Businesses in the north end of the valley seem overwhelmingly opposed to the Lucky Jack molybdenum mine proposal. So opposed in fact, that the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce this week has officially come out against the development of a molybdenum mine in the valley.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the chamber board said it “believes that the molybdenum mine on Mt. Emmons proposed by U.S. Energy would do irreparable, long-term harm to our businesses and economy. Accordingly, we are opposed to the development of the mine.”
Chamber executive director Christi Matthews said the chamber board had hoped to take a position on the mine after U.S. Energy released a formal plan of operations. That hasn’t yet happened. “Even though no formal plan has been released, just the perception of a mine in the area was impacting us,” she said. “Perception creates reality and we were taking phone calls from people who were making decisions based on their perception that a mine was coming. Just the perception was hurting business.”
According to its statement of opposition, the chamber has 350 members. When surveyed nine months ago, 80 percent of the respondents opposed the mine insofar as their business was concerned. Six percent supported the mine and 14 percent were undecided.
According to Matthews, the chamber is taking a stand to clear up any misperception that business in the area is pro-mine. “The proponents seem to want to show that the community, at least some segments of the community, backs the plan. But we wanted to be right up front and show that the opposition to the Lucky Jack project is broad. There is not just environmental opposition but also economic opposition,” Matthews said.
Matthews concedes that there are some people who would see economic benefits of mining. “But we feel it is a deviation from the course we are on now, which is to be a strong, vibrant, amenity-based economy,” she said.
The board stated Tuesday, “This community has advanced far beyond the days more than a half century ago when economic prosperity relied on mining. The Chamber will do all we can to promote and protect business interests today by encouraging continued development of our amenity economy and by discouraging any return to our mining past.”
As a matter of interest, the Lucky Jack Mine is a member of the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber.