Grant County Mine Jobs Under Attack Again

They’ve been at it for years. I’ve been reporting on it since 2016 when I wrote a story for the Silver City Sun-News and heard Harry Browne, then a candidate for Grant County Commissioner, talk about regulating the mine, and so much more. Individuals like Browne have been protesting since their childhood and Grant County residents just aren’t a match for the constant activism portrayed by local progressives (the progressives even admit they’re just “running as Democrats” and have declared many times they don’t share Grant County values).

Now this week, in an email to supporters, of the Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), Executive Director Allyson Siwik, explains the latest publicly released update of her organization. GRIPs end goal, whether veiled or not, is to heavily restricting and eventually shutting down mining in Grant County. Next week GRIP plans to influence and advocate for the regulation and effort toward closure of Freeport McMoRan’s mine through the Chino Mine Closure/Closeout Plan. We urge Grant County residents to stand up for local jobs and of Grant County families. To find out more about the meeting and connect with other attendees, RSVP here.

This past winter our editor and team shared pictures and updates on Twitter and via social media documenting the thousand people who attended the Grant County Commission meeting where resolutions supporting mine jobs and gun rights were discussed and voted on. As a matter of fact, Tony Trujillo, who has been a lobbyist for the mine, went so far as to say comments on Twitter, which were started by our efforts, helped stop anti-mining bills in Santa Fe. Thankfully, due to the efforts of many in the community who helped spread the word, hundreds, actually as much as a thousand, including those who were turned away, showed up to the meeting, helping to stop to anti-mining bills.

It made a powerful statement when KOB reported that there were 700 attending the meeting in support of mining, which meant the room was more than filled to capacity, and just a handful opposed the policies under consideration by the County Commission.

Read more about it below:

It’s been 18 years since hearings were last held on the Chino Mine Closure/Closeout Plan.
As the outdated plan and associated permits undergo revision under the Mining Act and Water Quality Act, we need you now just as much as we needed you back in 2001 to help us speak up for protection of clean water, our environment, and healthy communities.
Freeport-McMoRan’s Closure/Closeout Plan outlines how it proposes to clean up and reclaim the Chino mine once it’s no longer in operation. The plan and the associated state permits are critical to ensuring that surface and groundwater quality, air quality, land and wildlife are protected when the mine closes. Also included is an estimate of the cost of reclamation that determines how much financial assurance Freeport-McMoRan will be required to post to guarantee that there are sufficient financial resources available for reclamation when the mine closes or if Freeport should default.
Please stand up for protection of our water, land, air and communities at the
Chino Mine Closure/Closeout Plan Public Hearing
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
4:30 pm Open House
5:30 pm Public Hearing
Grant County Administration Building
Attend the open house and public hearing and consider making public comment.
Points you could make include:
  • Make public the proposed use of treated wastewater at mine closure – The Closure/Closeout Plan does not state the end use for treated wastewater and how treated water will be discharged. The anticipated end use of treated water is needed to determine what water quality standards will apply and will influence the cost estimate for water treatment.
  • Take climate change into account for design of water conveyances and channels – The Closure/Closeout Plan uses design criteria for the 100-year, 24-hour precipitation event, despite the fact that our area has experienced 500-year and 1000-year storm events according to the Silver City Daily Press. In order to protect public safety, we encourage Freeport to use more conservative design criteria.
  • Commit to 5-year review of closure/closeout plans and permits according to the state Mining Act and Water Quality Act – The Chino Mine closure/closeout plan and associated permits are more than a decade out of date. According to the New Mexico Mining Act and New Mexico Water Quality Act, the CCPs, permits and financial assurance should be reviewed every 5 years. In order to ensure that the plans, permits and financial assurance fully protect the public and the environment, 5 year review and renewal are critical.
  • Provide sufficient financial resources for more than 100 years of water treatment – For planning and financial assurance purposes, the Closure/Closeout Plan assumes water treatment will be needed for 100 years, but the actual water treatment requirements are predicted to continue for an indefinite period beyond 100 years. Chino Mines, the Mining and Minerals Division, and the NM Environment Department should consider the Bureau of Land Management’s approach and use 500-year long-term estimates as representative of indefinite costs for financial assurance purposes, as well as establish a trust fund for reclamation costs in perpetuity.
  • Prohibit use of Parent Company Guarantee as Third Party Guarantee for Chino Mine financial assurance – The NM Mining Act allows mine operators to use Third Party Guarantees for a portion of their financial assurance. However, in the case of the Chino Mine, the parent company, Freeport-McMoRan, has provided the third party guarantee. A parent company guarantee puts the state and the public at financial risk should Freeport go out of business, since it is nothing more than an I.O.U. The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance does not consider Third Party Guarantees as industry best practice. Similarly, the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management prohibit the use of parent company guarantees. Freeport and state agencies should follow responsible mining best practice and provide less risky forms of financial assurance, such as a cash trust or bank letter of credit.
For more information, check out GRIP‘s comments on the Chino CCP or listen to this week’s Earth Matters that airs on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 10 am and Thursday at 8 pm on 89.1 FM or streaming at gmcr.org.
We hope to see you at next week’s hearing. Thank you for speaking up for healthy communities, clean water and our environment!
Best regards,
Allyson Siwik
Executive Director

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