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Know the West

Avoiding the shaft

  -Few citizens, however well intentioned, can cope with the array of industry experts and lawyers that they will face when opposing a mine," says Sue McIntosh of the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club.

That's why McIntosh has written a handbook for mining activists called Avoiding the Shaft: The New Mexico Citizen's Mining Manual. When she began the project, McIntosh focused on the New Mexico Mining Act of 1993, a groundbreaking legislative bill regulating hard rock mining. But as activists called on her for help with other projects - like their fights against Cobre's Continental Mine near Fierra and Richard Cook's pumice mine in the Jemez - McIntosh decided to turn the manual into a tool for New Mexico mining activists. It's a comprehensive look at the business of mining, describing the nuts-and-bolts of modern techniques and listing vocabulary useful for mine site visits. It uses layman's terms to explain laws like the New Mexico Water Quality Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act, and describes research tools such as Freedom of Information Act requests and Internet links to library resources.

For a copy of the manual, contact Sierra Club, Santa Fe Group-Rio Grande Chapter, 621 Old Santa Fe Trail, Suite 10, Santa Fe, NM 87501 (505/983-2703). Cost is $10 and $2.50 for mailing.

* Jennifer Chergo