The return of a molybdenum mine proposed for Red Lady Bowl near Crested Butte, Colo., has been stalled - temporarily, at least (HCN, 12/8/97).
In September, a water court
judge postponed a trial to determine whether mining conglomerate
Cyprus-Amax can create a reservoir, after the company changed its
plans. Cyprus-Amax decided to downsize the mine from 10,000 to
6,000 tons per day, expand an accompanying reservoir from 1,000 to
1,600 acre-feet, and eliminate the need for one tailings
A vice president at Cyprus-Amax, Jerry
Denny, describes the design changes as an attempt to turn the mine
into a "high-grading" facility, a process that extracts only the
most lucrative molybdenum. The failed 20,000-ton-per-day project
planned for the late 1970s "may not have been suitable for Crested
Butte," Denny admits. But the current, smaller proposal, he says,
would not cause as much environmental damage or change the
community's character by attracting swarms of
Sandy Shea with the High Country
Citizens' Alliance isn't convinced: "Mining companies will say
almost anything to gain a foothold in a community." Likewise,
Crested Butte Mayor Victor Shepard worries about the consequences
of "boom-and-bust" on the fabric of his town. He thinks even this
downsized incarnation of the mine endangers the "tiny, fragile,
pristine mountain community" that attracted him and continues to
draw thousands of visitors each year.
obstacle course of permits and environmental review still ahead,
Cyprus-Amax admits that the mine is at least ten years away.
Crested Butte residents like Shea and Shepard are determined to
fight the development for as long as it takes.