Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Colorado's Summit County again seeks ban on uranium mining and cyanide

Despite a setback in Colorado's Supreme Court, Summit County is again seeking a way to stringently regulate mining at the local level.

Author: Dorothy Kosich
Posted: Monday , 22 Jun 2009


Despite a Colorado Supreme Court decision that overturned Summit County's cyanide heap-leach mining ban, Summit County planners are still pursuing tightening mining regulations.

A January Colorado Supreme Court ruling found the county could not ban a mining technique the state of Colorado allows.

The Colorado Mining Association successfully challenged Summit County's ban on cyanide processes for gold mining. The CMA contends existing state laws adequately regulate mining and the local mining bans could result in conflicting state and local regulations that would negatively impact mining companies.

However, this past week, the county introduced a first draft of new mining regulations during a work session of the Summit County Commission. The county may consider designating mining areas and implement tough performance standards in them,

The draft suggests performance standards that would require mining companies to enhance planning for emergency operations, including the clean-up of any potential cyanide spill. Under its existing land use powers, the county could designate certain areas are inappropriate for mining.

Summit County Planning Director Jim Curnutte told the Summit Daily News that the county would also consider applying its 1041 powers to review and regulate mining operations. Local 1041 powers come from a 1974 Colorado state law allowing local governments to "designate certain geographic areas and specified activities as matters of state interest."

Curnutte suggested Summit County may look at designating specific mining or mineral zones that would be subject to local 1041 permitting authority. These regulations could also force mining companies to disclose their exploration activities.

The overall changes in the local mining regulations would make it easier for local planning boards to review proposed mining projects and to issue stringent conditional use permits, the Summit Daily News reported.


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