Outdated federal mining regulations cause environmental disasters, says the Mineral Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Its 32-page report, Six Mines, Six Mishaps: Six Case Studies of What's Wrong With Federal and State Hardrock Mining Regulations and Recommendations for Reform, describes a wide range of mining sites that have "slipped through the loopholes of regulations," says the center's Krista Dahlberg. One "mishap" described by the center reoccurred over decades at New Mexico's Molycorp molybdenum mine. Ernie Atencio, one of seven contributors to the report, says Molycorp violated the Clean Water Act and harmed Red River fisheries by allowing more than 100 slurry spills. Five other case studies document similar damage from gold, silver and uranium mines across the West. The report recommends tougher federal laws regulating acid mine drainage, mine inspection, mine bonding and mine reclamation.
The Mineral Policy
Center's report can be obtained free by calling 202/887-1872, or
can be seen at www.mineralpolicy.org.
isn't the only mining study on the street. Because the Department
of the Interior has sought to strengthen its mining code over the
past three years, Congress, led by Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and
Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, commissioned the National Academy of
Sciences to prepare an evaluation of current mining
The $800,000 result, Hardrock Mining on
Federal Lands, was released one day after Six Mishaps. It finds
that "the existing array of federal and state laws regulating
mining is generally effective in protecting the environment." The
260-page study, however, recommends stricter enforcement of current
laws and better on-the-ground information management. Sen. Larry
Craig, R-Idaho, who recently introduced a rider to increase the
amount of mining waste allowed on public lands, lauded the
academy's work: "The NAS study should lay to rest any further
debate about the Department of the Interior's efforts to rewrite
its mining regulations," the senator said.
academy's report, written by a committee of 13 academics, mining
corporation representatives and independent consultants, can be
viewed at www.nas.edu. For a hard copy, available in January, call
* Ali Macalady