Miners association says it will fight new rules

Posted: Tuesday, January 16, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Alaska Miners Association is going to fight new mining regulations it says are designed to drive the mining industry out of business in Alaska.

''The Department of the Interior has unconscionably exceeded the limits of the law in numerous areas,'' AMA vice president Jerry Birch said Saturday in a news release.

The association believes the new rules could force small mining operations to close in the Fortymile and Wiseman Mining Districts.

The Bureau of Land Management used to allow small operations that disturbed less than five acres of land to operate without filing a mining plan. Under the new rules, any operation that disturbs more than 1,000 cubic yards of material annually will have to file plans.

The BLM also has changed the bonding requirements. Even small-scale miners will now have to guarantee they can clean up any mess they might make. They will have to buy cleanup bonds and can no longer place the assets of the mining company as collateral for the bond.

BLM also rewrote rules for using cyanide to extract gold from ore. Facilities that use the chemical must be able to confine any water on their grounds from 100-year snow or rain storms.

The new rules, which go into effect Jan. 20, are the culmination of a 10-year review. Hard-rock mining regulations were last revised in 1980.

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