- Associated Press - Friday, June 7, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A mining company is looking to conduct exploratory drilling for minerals in New Mexico’s Santa Fe National Forest.

Comexico LLC has submitted a plan of operations to the U.S. Forest Service and has applied for an exploratory permit with the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

The subsidiary of Australia-based New World Cobalt is planning to start drilling core samples in October. The drilling operations are expected to be on a little over 2 acres (0.8 hectares) near Terrero, the company said.

The company has identified 83 potential drilling sites, but it is planning to build no more than 30 drill pads.

The National Environmental Policy Act requires an environmental impact analysis before drilling can begin.



The environmental group WildEarth Guardians said it will oppose the project, which demonstrates the need to update the federal General Mining Act of 1872. The Forest Service does not have authority to prevent the exploration and development of mineral resources on public land under the law.

“In the meantime, we will fight this proposal to extract minerals because we believe it’s incompatible with the Pecos Wild & Scenic River, as well as the clean water and healthy wildlife that most New Mexicans want protected on the Santa Fe National Forest,” WildEarth Guardians Executive Director John Horning told the Albuquerque Journal .

The Forest Service said it has given the company a list of measures to protect wildlife and plants, including the Mexican spotted owl and the endangered Holy Ghost ipomopsis plant.

The proposed drilling operation is near gold, silver, zinc and lead mining sites that closed decades ago. The sites were cleaned up after a heavy snowmelt in 1991 washed contaminants into the Pecos River, killing thousands of fish.

“All potentially hazardous chemicals will be stored within a secondary containment vessel to ensure there is no leak onto or into the ground, nearby streams, or existing boreholes,” the company said in its permit application. “No chemicals will be disposed of onsite. All trash and waste will be removed from the site and disposed of properly.”

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