New Briggs Mine Exploration
BLM approves exploration drilling and road building on 3000 acres of Panamint Range.
Appeal, bonding, and backfill questions stall Briggs drilling for now.
4/10/03 - STATE MINING AND GEOLOGY BOARD VOTES TO MAKE COMPLETE BACKFILL REGULATIONS PERMANENT!
4/15/03 - BRIGGS SAYS IT WILL DO NO EXPLORATORY DRILLING!
See Updates and Issue Summary Below
FOR OFFICIAL BLM INFORMATION
CONTACT: Randy Porter, Ridgecrest BLM - 300 S. Richmond Road, Ridgecrest, CA 93555 (760) 384-5400 firstname.lastname@example.org
BLM Record of Decision ONLINE: http://www.ca.blm.gov/ridgecrest/cecil_r._jackson_exploration_e.html
More Info on Briggs at: Great Basin Mine Watch http://www.greatbasinminewatch.org/
Current Price of Gold: http://www.kitco.com/market/
PLEASE MAKE YOUR OPINION KNOWN!
Page Last Updated: 04/15/2003
Briggs Exploratory Road Maps Panamint Valley Landscape Views Briggs Mine Photo Album
Panamint Valley Simulation Views Leave No Pits Page Open Pits Photo Album Briggs Reclamation is NOT Restoration
New Briggs Mine Exploration
4/15/03 - Los Angeles Times story on New SMGB Regulations - Briggs says No Exploratory Drilling!
4/10/03 - State Mining and Geology Board Votes To Make Backfill Regulations Permanent - Should apply to any new Briggs mine open pit
4/9/03 - Los Angeles Times story on Briggs Mine expansion/backfill - Strong words from DVNP superintendent
3/13/03 - Report from State Mining and Geology Board Hearing on Permanent Backfill Regulations - Board states their intent that any New Briggs pits must be backfilled
12/24/02 - BLM Issues Final Record of Decision Approving Briggs Exploration Drilling and Road-building - Finds No Significant Impact
11/8/02 - Comment Deadline on Revised EA
10/4/02 - BLM Issues Revised Exploration EA
8/10/02 - Comment Deadline for Exploration EA
6/24/02 - BLM Releases Exploration Environmental Assessment (EA) for Comment
ISSUE SUMMARY - The Briggs Gold Mine wants to start a new mine north of their current site in the southern Panamint Valley as they have almost exhausted the higher grade ores. They have had numerous claims on over 10,000 acres of land in the Panamint Mountains from Redlands Canyon north several miles to Happy Canyon north of Ballarat.
Panamint Valley is one of the few remaining large undeveloped valleys in California. With the entire northern portion of the valley and the upper ridge of the Panamints in Death Valley National Park, the landscape character is of national concern. The current mine site is located in the southern part of the valley, less visible from the well-traveled Hiway 178 as it crosses north over the Slate Range into Panamint Valley.
The proposed new mine exploration location is two to six miles north of the existing site. It is also extends almost two thousand feet higher on the mountainside. The visual impact of the potential new exploration roads will be right there for travelers to see. A modern heap leach gold mine landscape will not be a welcome sight for most Death Valley visitors.
These pages give some photos of the current mine's impact, some maps and projections of the new exploration's impact, and some views of the larger Panamint Valley Landscape in peril.
In December the BLM ruled that the roads and drilling for the new mine would not be a significant impact and that decision is now being appealed.
On 4/10/03 the California State Mining Board adopted permanent regulations requiring open pit gold mines to fully backfill new pits so that the land can be restored to its original contour, safe and usable. Their intent is that this will apply to all new pits such as in the potential new Briggs Mine (called the Cecil R/Jackson).
The added cost of restoring an open pit gold mine to its original contour will add significantly to the reclamation bond needed for any new Briggs Mine. Briggs managers have stated they will start no new pits under these new regulations. The Briggs exploration is on hold at this point.
Friends of the Panamints is cautiously optimistic. We would like to jump up and down and declare a victory for preservation of the natural landscape of Panamint Valley, but the Glamis Mine has not yet been finally stopped, and we may see further activity from Briggs or even the Bush administration. We will stay alert.
Briggs-supplied scenario of possible new drill roads mapped in red. This was not included in the Revised EA - Green shows existing routes (Wingate Road and South Park Canyon Route), Blue shows washes. See Exploratory Road Maps Page
Exploratory Roads created in 1994 for current Briggs Mine - "Reclamation" would improve but not restore this damage. No Significant Impact?
Current Briggs Mine Waste Piles In Southern Panamint Valley
Briggs Mine From Ballarat Road
Briggs Mine Air Pollution
Nostradamas Canyon - New Exploration Site - Almost Forty drill holes are projected on numerous new roads up to 4000' high along this now roadless canyon
Tom claims this beer can was not put here by him
Environmental Compliance for How Long?
click any photo for larger version