Forest Service Releases Draft EIS for Roca Honda Mine Near Mount Taylor

In February of this year the United States Forest Service (USFS) released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Roca Honda Mine, which proposes to mine uranium. The mine is located on Jesus Mesa three miles northwest of San Mateo near Mount Taylor. Two sections of the proposed mine are on USFS land and one section is on State Trust Land. The project is a joint venture of Strathmore (Canada Mining Company) and Sumitomo, a Japanese multinational nuclear utility, operated under the name Roca Honda Resources (RHR). Former State Land Office director Patrick Lyons signed off on a state lease for the mine before he left office. Roca Honda Resources has also applied to State Mining and Minerals Division for a permit and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a permit to build a mill on the private land near Ambrosia Lake, a former mill site. It will also need a discharge permit from the New Mexico Environment Department.

View of Mount Taylor from the Roca Honda Mine site. USFS photo
View of Mount Taylor from the Roca Honda Mine site. USFS photo

As stated in the DEIS, “The proposed Federal action is to: (1) approve RHR’s plan of operations with mitigations needed to protect other nonmineral surface resources consistent with the 1985 forest plan, regulations, and other applicable laws, and (2) approve a project-specific forest plan amendment to allow the Roca Honda project to deviate from the forest plan standards of management with regard to historic properties.” The DEIS also states that “The Forest Service may reject an unreasonable or illegal plan of operations, but cannot categorically prohibit mining activity or deny reasonable and legal mineral operations under the mining laws.” This is in reference to the General Mining Law of 1872, which allows mining companies to develop and remove  mineral resources from public lands.

The public comment period for the Roca Honda Mine DEIS began March 15, 2013 and ends 60 days following the publication date on May 14. Online comments can be submitted to comments-southwestern-cibola@fs.fed.us (reference the Roca Honda Mine DEIS).

For more information regarding the DEIS and opposition to any uranium mining in the Mount Taylor area visit the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) website (also see La Jicarita article on all pending uranium mining proposals in the Mount Taylor area).

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