NMELCs Hard Rock Mining Cases.

CASES — HARD ROCK MINING


Cases are arranged alphabetically, with the exception of affiliated case groupings. The simplest method to find a particular case is to use our search feature, at the top of the page. Learn more about Mining issues.


BER Beryllium Mine [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Monticello (near Truth or Consequences)

Issues:

Prevent the siting of a beryllium mine that would threaten springs and an acequia. Exploration complete in 2010, now working to obtain proper reclamation of the exploration.



Latest News:

10/17/2012 - Clients are waiting for notice that BER has begun reclamation.

04/26/2010 - NM Mining and Minerals Division MMD granted BE Resources Inc., a permit to drill exploration holes on the Sullivan Ranch. Read Press Release.

Case Initiation Date:
June 2008

Clients/Partners:
Monticello Ditch Association

Attorneys:
Jonathan Block

Case Status:
On-going

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Copper Flat Mine [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Sierra County

Issues:

Evaluate potential impacts to environment from proposed reopening of Copper Flat mine and participate in permitting processes.



Latest News:
Case Initiation Date:
May 2011

Clients/Partners:
Turner Ranch Properties, L.P. (Ladder Ranch)

Attorneys:
Bruce Frederick

Case Status:
On-going

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Grant County Tyrone mine closure plan [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Silver City/ Grant County

Issues:

Ensure future remediation and bonding of Phelps Dodge mine (5th largest open pit mine in U.S.) in Grant County. UPDATE: NMED and Tyrone settled, but the settlement is contingent on several future events, such as promulgation of copper mine discharge permit regulations and granting of variances. NMELC will continue to monitor the situation in behalf of GRIP.



Latest News:

12/22/2010 - NM Environment Department announces settlement with Freeport McMoran on the longstanding appeal associated with closure requirements for the Tyrone copper mine in Grant County, N.M. Get PDF of NMED press release.

03/06/2009 - Freeport McMoran filed an appeal to the decision from the Water Quality Control Commission to uphold the groundwater discharge permit requirements.

01/13/2009 - After four years of litigation, including an excursion to the NM Court of Appeals and a year of “executive session” deliberations by the NM Water Quality Control Commission, the Commission issued its decision on January 13th, 2009 regarding the groundwater discharge permit that the Environment Department (NMED) issued in 2005 to Phelps Dodge Mining Co., now Freeport McMoran.  The decision is significant for the protection of New Mexico’s groundwater.

The permit requires that the company clean up its extensive and deep groundwater pollution, which spans two aquifers.  Two of the permit conditions require the company to regrade and cover all of the exposed tailings, waste rock and ore at the site, encompassing nearly 10,000 acres of land. After the permit was issued, Phelps Dodge sued over those permit conditions. Although it did not dispute that the piles will continue to be sources of groundwater contamination for centuries to come, the company argued that it had the right to pollute the groundwater beneath its property. 

The Commission made several important determinations that rejected the arguments presented by the company and its numerous experts.  Most importantly, the Commission stated unequivocally that land ownership and control of the land surface are not relevant to determining whether groundwater will be used in the future.  Instead, it directed the NM Environment Dept. to only consider objective factors such as aquifer characteristics, present use of water, pre-mining water quality, and reasonably foreseeable use of the groundwater at issue over a time horizon of at least the next 100 years.

Case Initiation Date:
2001

Clients/Partners:
Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP)

Attorneys:
Bruce Frederick

Case Status:
On-going - The NM Water Quality Control Commission directed NMED to determine which parts of the aquifers underlying the mines are “places of withdrawal” where water quality standards must be met. NMED must make this determination and reevaluate the permit conditions in light of its determination within 18 months.

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Humate Mining Regulation Amendment [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Northwest New Mexico

Issues:

Advocate for client who opposes a petition to weaken the New Mexico Mining Act Rules. The change, sought by a mining company, is to classify all humate mines under 60 acres as “minimal impact” mines. Currently, the Mining Act considers mines over ten acres “non-minimal impact” and requires them to comply with comprehensive monitoring and environmental regulations.



Latest News:

02/12/2014 - NM Mining Commission files Final Order and denies Motion to Reconsider.

02/10/2014 - NMELC files Response to Motion to Reconsider.

02/05/2014 - Opposing party asks NM Mining Commission to reconsider its decision.

09/17/2013 - NM Mining Commission decides to consider humate mines 20 acres and under as “minimal impact mines”, doubling the previous acreage of 10 acres.

08/27/2013 - Hearing is scheduled to reconvene on September 17th at 8 am.

08/16/2013 - NMELC files Notice of Intent to Present Technical Testimony for client.

07/01/2013 - Hearing scheduled for August 26 and 27, 2013

Case Initiation Date:
May 2013

Clients/Partners:
Amigos Bravos

Attorneys:
Douglas Meiklejohn

Case Status:
On-going

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New Mexico Mining Act Regulation Amendments [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Statewide

Issues:


Latest News:
Case Initiation Date:
July 2011

Clients/Partners:
NMELC

Attorneys:
Douglas Meiklejohn

Case Status:
On-going

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New Mexico Copper Mine Groundwater Regulations [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Statewide

Issues:

Advocate for environmental protections to be included in New Mexico’s copper mine groundwater regulations.



Latest News:

04/09/2014 - NMELC files Brief in Chief with Court of Appeals.

02/19/2014 - NMELC files Motion for Stay of Copper Rule and Brief in Support of Stay with the NM Court of Appeals.

12/13/2013 - NMELC files Reply in Support of staying Copper Rule with WQCC until the Court of Appeals makes its determination and a Motion to disqualify the WQCC.

12/05/2013 - The Copper Rule hearing that was scheduled for December 10th before the Water Quality Control Commission has been postponed. Please stay tuned for upcoming new schedule.

11/08/2013 - Docketing statement is filed in Appeal.

10/09/2013 - NMELC files Notice of Appeal.

09/10/2013 - WQCC adopts copper mining regulations as proposed by NMED and Freeport-McMoRan. Read press release.

08/22/2013 - Closing arguments filed.

04/09/2013 - Staff Attorney Bruce Frederick gives opening statement to the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC)

04/01/2013 - Beginning April 9th, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) will go before the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) to present its draft water quality rules for the copper mining industry. Find out more.

02/22/2013 - Notice of Intent to Present Technical Testimony filed.

12/14/2012 - NMELC filed joint Motion to Dismiss with the Water Quality Control Commission to dismiss the NMED’s proposed copper rule.

10/12/2012 - NMELC submitted comments with the New Mexico Environment Department on draft changes to the state’s copper mine regulations.

Read press release: Copper Mining Company Allowed to Write Copper Mining Regulations | Throws Out Protections for New Mexico Groundwater

Case Initiation Date:
January 2012

Clients/Partners:
Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), Amigos Bravos, Turner Ranch Properties, L.P.

Attorneys:
Bruce Frederick

Case Status:
On-going

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Ortiz Mountains gold mine reclamation [Click to view entire case file.]
Location:
Santa Fe County

Issues:

Remediation of LAC gold mine in Ortiz Mountains.



Latest News:

July 2009 - We are continuing to monitor the settlement.

Case Initiation Date:
October 1992

Clients/Partners:
Friends of Santa Fe County

Attorneys:
Douglas Meiklejohn

Case Status:
On-going

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