The Portland Oregonian reports that Malheur County Oregon could soon become a mining hub — or a battleground about uranium and gold mining versus environmentalists trying to protect its lonesome sagebrush landscape.
An Australian company from West Perth, Australia, that has incorporated itself here, ironically enough, as Oregon Energy LLC, hopes to mine 18 million pounds of yellowcake uranium from the southeastern Oregon high desert 10 miles west of McDermitt near the Oregon-Nevada boundary.
This mining will no doubt impact the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation.
The go-ahead to mine uranium could bring up to 250 construction jobs to the county, followed by 150 mining jobs.
A Canadian company, Calico Resources USA Corp., may also seek permits this month to chemically extract microscopic gold from a high desert butte south of Vale Oregon on Grassy Mountain. This project is likely to create another 100 jobs.
The Oregonian stated that gold mining was once a major part of Oregon’s economy. Since the mid-1800s, miners have taken an estimated 5.5 million ounces of gold from the state’s streams and underground “hardrock” mines. Half to two-thirds was found in northeastern Oregon.
Uranium was first discovered in Oregon in the 1930s and a small amount was mined on Bear Creek Butte, 40 miles southeast of Bend, in 1960.
The Canadian and Australian proposals will be the first real tests of the 1991 Oregon chemical processing mining law. It was enacted by the Legislature in response to a debate over mining’s future in Oregon, said environmentalist Larry Tuttle. The law ushered in tough new bonding requirements to weed out marginal operators and guarantee environmental cleanup.
This seems to be a very crucial aspect of allowing any chemical mining. Several Canadian mining companies have already caused environmental problems in the United States and then escaped liability through bankruptcy. See http://lawlib.lclark.edu/blog/native_america/?p=5230
Read more: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2012/01/malheur_county_targeted_for_go.html