- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A mining company has completed test drilling on state-owned Adirondack Forest Preserve land that was the subject of a voter-approved state constitutional amendment in 2013.

John Brodt, spokesman for NYCO Minerals, said Tuesday that it will take three to six months of analysis to determine the quality and quantity of wollastonite on the state land adjacent to NYCO’s existing pit mine in the Essex County town of Lewis. The crystalline white mineral is used in plastics, paints and other products.

NYCO has agreed to swap at least 1,500 acres of prime recreational land elsewhere in the Adirondacks for the right to mine about 50 acres on a 200-acre, state-owned tract adjacent to its Lewis mine. After the mineral deposit is depleted, the company will restore the land and return it to the state. The land is in the Jay Mountain Wilderness east of the Adirondack High Peaks.

The exploration work by NYCO was delayed for a year while the Sierra Club, Adirondack Wild, Protect the Adirondacks and Earthjustice challenged the Department of Environmental Conservation’s test-mining permit in court and were granted a temporary injunction. A state Supreme Court judge lifted the injunction in December, rejecting the claim by environmental groups that the DEC ignored serious environmental concerns when they approved the project.

Some environmental groups, including the Adirondack Council, were in favor of the land swap that allowed the mine expansion, saying it was a good deal for New Yorkers because they’d get 1,500 acres of land that includes trout streams and new hiking access in exchange for the minerals sought by NYCO.

Opposing environmental groups called it a bad precedent to allow Forest Preserve land to be traded to a private company for commercial gain. Under the state constitution, state land in the Adirondacks and Catskills is protected as “forever wild,” never to be sold, traded or given away except by constitutional amendment.

While the state permit allowed NYCO to drill test samples on 21 sites, Brodt said eight drillings provided sufficient material to evaluate the mineral resources.

“We’re encouraged by our initial findings,” Brodt said. “If the decision is made that we’d like to proceed, we’ll start working with DEC to determine the value of the property. The proposition calls for us to swap land of equal value to the state, with a minimum value of $1 million.”

NYCO has proposed giving six parcels with a combined value of $1 million to the state. The parcels include improved access to the Jay and Hurricane wilderness areas.


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