Summit’s mineral belt is still alive; make cyanide mining off limits |

Summit’s mineral belt is still alive; make cyanide mining off limits

James W. Shaw, Silverthorne

Summit County has a tremendous mining legacy that is not all good.

We are still dealing with some of the environmental problems left over from activity years ago.

But more importantly, Summit County has changed. It is no longer a mining county.

While there is still some mining activity and many old mining claims, we are now a resort community. The activities that are important now are skiing, biking, hiking, snowshoeing, fishing and other activities that take advantage of our tremendous mountain setting.

The mineral belt that brought Summit County its first miners still runs through the county. There will always be miners or would-be miners who want to try their luck.

Summit County must carefully regulate such activity, because many of these miners do not have the technical or financial resources to deal with all of the issues that may occur.

Off-site impacts may be as damaging as the on-site impacts. I have spent most of my career in the mining business. Large, responsible mining companies can mitigate many of the impacts of mining.

But the time for large mining operations in Summit County is behind us. Large mining operations are incompatible with Summit County’s tourist economy. Small miners can create big problems. They must be regulated by the county.

The Summit Countywide Planning Commission is now dealing with new regulations on mining. These new regulations must include a ban on heap leaching with cyanide.

A hearing is set for 5:30 p.m. today in the Buffalo Mountain meeting room of the County Commons.

We are at the top of the hydrological chain. With all of our snowfall, this is not a place where heap leaching should occur. An accident here could be catastrophic.

Cyanide heap leaching is simply inappropriate in Summit County today. Please let the planning commissioners and the county commissioners know that cyanide heap leaching is not appropriate for Summit County and should be officially forbidden.

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