(Provided by the Northwest Mining Association)
Talking Points for Responding to the USFS’ Request for Comments on the
Buckhorn Mountain Mine Access Road and Related Activities Project
· The United States Department of Agriculture/Forest Service (USFS) should complete the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the haul road, fence, and other support facilities for the Buckhorn Mountain Project as quickly as possible.
· Timely approval of these facilities is essential to keeping the Buckhorn Mountain Project on schedule.
· Timely development of the Buckhorn Mountain Project is critical to preserving jobs for over 100 people who are currently employed at the Kettle River Operations in Ferry County. (The miners currently working at the K-2 Mine need to shift over to the Buckhorn Mine when the ore is exhausted at K-2 later this year. Similarly, ore from the Buckhorn Mountain Project is needed to keep the Kettle River mill running and to preserve milling jobs.)
· The Kettle River Operations is the largest private-sector employer in Ferry County. Thus, preserving these family-wage mining and milling jobs is essential to Ferry County’s economy.
· The revised project proposal to build the Buckhorn Mountain Project as an underground mine and to process the ore at the existing Kettle River mill represents a significant opportunity to develop a mine with the least possible impact upon the environment and to preserve existing jobs and create new jobs in this economically challenged part of rural Washington. The proposed use of National Forest lands to support the development of the mine on private land is an essential component of this project.
· USFS should be commended for withdrawing from the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement as a result of the patents that were issued for the mine area. The USFS’ current approach to prepare an EA for the support facilities is appropriate in light of the dramatically reduced impacts the Buckhorn Mountain Project will have on National Forest lands and the change in the agency’s jurisdiction over the project.
· In addition to the USFS’ obligations under the Mining Law to give mining claimants reasonable access to their lands as noted in the March 29, 2005 scoping letter, the USFS’ analysis of the proposed action should also consider the following statutory obligations:
1. The Mining and Minerals Policy Act of 1970 at 30 U.S.C. § 21 (a) in which the Congress declares it is “…the continuing policy of the Federal Government in the national interest to foster and encourage private enterprise in (1) the development of economically sound and stable domestic mining, minerals, metal and mineral reclamation industries, (2) the orderly and economic development of domestic mineral resources, reserves, and reclamation of metals and minerals to help assure satisfaction of industrial, security and environmental needs…”
2. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 at 43 U.S.C. § 1701 (a)(12) which requires that “the public lands be managed in a manner which recognizes the Nation's need for domestic sources of minerals, food, timber, and fiber from the public lands including implementation of the Mining and Minerals Policy Act of 1970 (84 Stat. 1876, 30 U.S.C. § 21(a)) as it pertains to the public lands.”