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Nevada’s Big Stake as Mining Reform Heads to U.S. Senate

January 24, 2008

Washington, DC – Nevada ranks tops in gold and other hard rock mining in this country, and that means the Silver State has a major stake in today's hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on efforts to update and reform the 1872 Hard Rock Mining Law.

Jane Danowitz, director of the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining, says the law is outdated and not relevant to current mining practices.

"These are industries which are highly profitable and, in many cases, foreign-owned; and yet for decades they've been able to take gold and other precious minerals off of U.S. public land virtually for free."

Last year, when the House passed its version of mining reform, the Nevada Mining Association said it was not opposed to the concept of a royalty payment as long as it still offered the industry a fair return. At Great Basin Resource Watch, Dan Randolph says Nevadans have both economic and health issues that will be addressed if the Senate passes a mining reform measure.

"For people who live near and by mines, the most important thing is that it be done correctly; that the long-term legacy, thousands of years of polluted waters, are restored. That is the primary concern."

Gene Kolkman with the Nevada Rural Alliance believes money needs to be found to deal with the problems of abandoned mine sites in Nevada.

"It's right here out the door, there are sites all over the state that need to be cleaned up. It's not the fault of the industry today, but it's a job that we all need to do; and it makes sense to me to pay a royalty, so that there can be sufficient funds to clean up that mess."

New Mexico's Senate delegation is expected to take the lead in updating the mining law. The issue will likely be a big test for Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who has close ties to the mining industry, but also has gone on record concerning the need for reforming the mining law.

Michael Clifford/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NV