Judge affirms stricter interpretation of federal mining law

Apr 14, 2023

An Arizona judge ruled in favor of a stricter interpretation of mining law that could have consequences for future mining projects. U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks ruled that mining claims don’t convey the right to dump tailings and other waste on adjacent land.

Hicks cited a previous ruling in an Arizona case that reversed a long-held position that the 1872 Mining Law does convey dumping rights alongside a mining claim. That ruling blocked the construction of a copper mine based on the conclusion that it did not have rights to dump waste where it had planned to on adjacent national forest land. The ruling also established a precedent that the mining company and government need to confirm that valuable minerals are present on the surrounding lands in order to gain the right to dump there. This prevents mining operations from permanently occupying public lands that don’t have any mining potential.

The new ruling reverses the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of a molybdenum mine in central Nevada based on the lack of evidence of molybdenum on the surrounding land. The case could potentially have implications for the Thacker Pass lithium mine and the Stibnite Gold Project in Idaho, which is currently under review by the U.S. Forest Service.

Quick hits

Judge affirms stricter interpretation of federal mining law

Associated Press

A new rule could change the way the BLM manages public land in the West

Field & Stream

Great Salt Lake is up over 3 feet—but it has a long way to go to healthy

Salt Lake Tribune

Opinion: This is how fast humans have changed the ecosystem


Coalition launches push to save 3.3 million acres of Colorado private property from development

Denver Post

Montana BLM seeks public input on management of lower Blackfoot River watershed

Missoulian | Missoula Current

A ‘seismic shift’ for public lands?

High Country News

Scientists challenge qualifications of U.S. Fish and Wildlife director, call for removal

Associated Press | KNAU

Quote of the day

We can’t see the roots underground. We don’t know what all those connections mean. However, those hidden things are really important in terms of understanding how communities work.”

Paul Rogers, biologist at Utah State University on Pando aspen grove’s decline

Picture this

Spring BRAKE for wildlife. Critters are on the move in the spring as they migrate, feed, look for mates, or forage with their young. As you travel through areas known for wildlife, use caution and drive slowly for our feathered, furry, and cold-blooded friends. Photo of a bobcat courtesy of Tyler Reber.

(featured image: Lithium mine in Nevada, Wikimedia Commons)