HTML _ 96-669 - New World Gold Mine and Yellowstone National Park
27-Aug-1996; Marc Humphries; 6 p.

Abstract: Crown Butte Mines, Inc. wants to develop its New World gold mine deposit located near Yellowstone National Park. The proposed mine is located almost entirely on private property about 3 miles east of the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park and next to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness area. The New World Mine Project would mine an estimated 1,800 tons of gold/silver/copper ore per day (500,000 tons annually), valued at an estimated $800 million over a 10-15 year period. The project would include an underground mine, an ore processing mill, a tailings pond, a waste rock storage site, access roads, a work camp and transmission lines. A draft environmental impact statement (EIS), required under both NEPA and the Montana Environmental Policy Act, is in the final months of a three-year preparation. The project has stirred controversy because of its possible environmental impacts. Environmental groups oppose the project because of the potential for damage to water, recreational assets and wildlife in the area, and in particular, to Yellowstone Park itself. Crown Butte maintains it would employ ¨state-of-the-art¨ technology to contain waste in a proposed 106-acre tailings pond. Opponents of the project fear that the tailings pond may fail in the future due to earthquakes, avalanches or other events, leading to acid mine drainage. Several permits from the federal and state level are required to operate the mine and mill. The issuing agencies could approve the mine plan, approve the plan with stipulations, or deny the permit. Without the necessary permits, mine development could not go forward. Environmentalists have received support from two highly visible events. In July 1995, the President called for a moratorium on mine patents and new claims on federal lands in the area around the mine site. In December 1995, the United Nations World Heritage Committee declared the Yellowstone National Park ¨in danger¨ because of the New World mine proposal, and other activities in the area. In the 104th Congress, a Senate proposal (S. 1737) would permanently withdraw from location under the Mining Law 19,000 acres, and affect 5,000 additional acres of federal lands near the Crown Butte mine site. A House bill (H.R. 1846) would withdraw lands upstream from the Park. None of these measures would affect the New World Mine directly, but might affect the economics of the project by precluding future expansion. [read report]

Topics: Mining

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