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Know the West

Mine fires up potters

  For thousands of years Picuris Pueblo potters have darkened red pottery with hematite and sparkled it with mica. Now, a mine threatens this tradition. Tenfold expansion of a privately owned mica mine near Peûasco, N.M. - not far from the proposed copper mine recently dropped by Summo (HCN, 6/23/98) - would use up the last known micaceous clay. The mining company says it needs more mica to give flexibility and a paintable sheen to car fenders. Traditional leader Joe Quanchello says losing the clay would deplete the income of about 75 percent of the tribal members. To expand its 25-acre mine, Franklin Industrial Minerals still needs a permit from the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division, says state environmental engineer Brian Johnson. The Picuris potters have no clout with the state, however. Proposals on private land in New Mexico don't require a review of cultural impacts.

Engineer Johnson says comments about the expansion are welcome; send them to Kathleen Garland, Director, New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division, 2040 S. Pacheco St., Santa Fe, NM 87505.

* Taffeta Elliott