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Mining laws have not kept up with technology Print

Loveland ReporterHerald.Com
October 21, 2007

When a U.S. House committee decided last week to impose the first hard-rock royalties in the nation’s history, it opened the lid on a topic that has slowly simmered for decades but is now coming to the forefront, especially in Northern Colorado.

The nation’s and state’s mining laws were crafted to meet the needs of an expanding state and country, and may not reflect the needs of homeowners who have moved into what had previously been unchartered wilderness.

In Congress, the House Committee on Natural Resources approved new royalties on gold, silver and other hard-rock metals mined in the country. The royalties themselves are not that great — 4 percent of gross revenue on existing hard-rock operations and 8 percent on new ones — but they represent a monumental change in how the country views its natural resources.

The current Mining Law of 1872 was crafted to encourage development of minerals, with the thought that development would create other benefits for the communities from which the minerals were extracted.

New rules would recognize that the metals themselves should bring value to the treasury.

And so it goes in the state, where two lawmakers are looking to revamp some of the state’s mining laws to ensure residents affected by mining activity are protected.

Reps. John Kefalas and Randy Fischer, both Fort Collins Democrats, are proposing legislation that would create greater safeguards for underground water quality and would reclassify some of the mining application and permitting processes that are right now considered confidential.

This is a good discussion to have, as uranium deposits in Weld and Larimer counties draw interest from companies across the continent.

At both the state and federal levels, the laws that regulate mining have not kept up with the technology and the savvy of the companies that look to extract resources from both public and private lands. Updates appear to be in order.


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