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Report: Gold Mining Prospect in WYO Calls for Water Pollution

December 8, 2006

Cheyenne, WY - Gold prices have spurred another gold rush in the West, with mines and mine expansions proposed for Wyoming. But there's a new warning that "gold fever" can cause pollution problems for hundreds of years. A new report finds that the hard rock mining industry always promises water will not be contaminated, but it almost always is. Alan Septoff is with Earthworks, the group that sponsored the report.

"The metal mining industry releases more toxics than any other industry in the United States. Mining has polluted the headwaters of more than 40 percent of Western watersheds."

Environmental engineer Ann Maest is a report coauthor. She believes mining companies should post money up front to pay for clean up, especially when metal mines are located near water.

"Mines with these inherent factors are also the most likely to require treatment in perpetuity to reduce the long-term adverse impacts to water resources."

The report includes recommendations for making metal mines less toxic, including more on-site investigation before mine construction. Some mining companies say they use new technologies that reduce the likelihood of pollution.

The full report is available online, at

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WY