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Report: Science Behind Mine Permitting Process is “Broken”

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December 8, 2006

Albuquerque, NM – About 75 percent of mines end up polluting water resources more than the predicted amount established during their permitting process, and industry watchdogs say mines in New Mexico are no exception.

Alan Septoff is research director for Earthworks, the group that sponsored the new report. He says the study is unprecedented.

"Before this point, nobody has bothered to check what mine predictions have been and then adjust for the future. That isn't happening."

Paul Robinson, of the Southwest Research and Information Center, points to the MolyCorp mine above Questa as a case in point.

"Research shows that the groundwater contamination and surface water contamination in the area is a result of mined activities, not natural conditions."

Robinson also notes that the report indicates taxpayers are potentially liable for the cost of cleaning up some of the mine-related pollution. Molycorp has posted over $100 million in cleanup bonds to prevent taxpayers from footing the bill at its Questa facility.

The report documents are accessible online, at .

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM