Eastern Oregon Mining Association
Eastern Oregon Mining Association
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- Eastern Oregon Mining Association
- 20171121

Volume 338

Meetings are held on the first Friday of the month. The next meeting will be Friday, NOVEMBER 3RD, 2017 at the Baker City Hall. The building is located at 1st and Auburn Streets in Baker City. The Board meeting starts at 6:00 PM. The general meeting starts at 6:30 PM.
Everyone is welcome to attend these meetings. There is time for discussing mining and getting to know other miners. As usual there will be a drawing for a $50 silver medallion at the meeting!

The Forest Service is preparing to send out the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision sometime around the end of December for public comments and objections. This is the document that the Forests will use to “manage” the forests into the future. What is in this document will affect our lives as miners and as forest users.

Many of us made comments the last time the Forest Service tried to revise the Forest Plan. The Plan combines the Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur National Forests. This revision includes two new alternatives that we did not get to comment on previously. EOMA will work with our miners to ensure comments are made on the new alternatives, and objections are raised for portions of the Plan that are not reasonable. The Forest Service spends years writing these documents, and then they give us only 60 days to respond. We will talk more about this at our next EOMA meeting in November.

Supposedly, this revised Forest Plan is not a travel management plan. But it actually is. All references to closing roads and maintaining “road density” pave the way for the next step-Travel Management. Baker County will be commenting/objecting to the Plan when it comes out, but the County needs your help. We must support the County’s efforts to curtail bad Forest Management and require the Forest to coordinate with the county.
Many miners that I work with have designated me as their agent on the Forest, utilizing a procedure which District Ranger Jeff Tomac specifically required. As agent, I can help miners reply to Forest Service correspondence and help them understand what the Forest Service wants them to do. The Limited Power of Attorney states “I am requesting that Jan Alexander act as my agent concerning my Plan of Operation (or Notice of Intent). Jan should receive a cc of all correspondence which is sent to me. These copies include, but are not limited to, correspondence concerning my Plan of Operation (Notice of Intent). Jan is authorized to work with your staff on the ground, to meet with you on my behalf, to answer questions and to relay information from me to you. Jan may have access to my Forest Service files. Jan is authorized to work with your staff until such time, either that Jan or I inform you in writing, that she is no longer operating as my agent”. The miner then has his/her signature notarized, and submits this form to the Forest Service.

This year, copies of correspondence from the miners I am agent for stopped coming. So, I brought this up at the Round Table Meeting on October 3, 2017. District Ranger Jeff Tomac, said he had decided to ignore the Limited Power of Attorneys that miners have submitted. He wanted his staff only to work with the miners. He said he had contacted the Forest Service attorneys to find out if the Limited Power of Attorney forms with the miners’ notarized signatures were legal. I pointed out to Jeff, that he was the one who had insisted on the LPOAs.
The Forest Service is so broken, it is a sad situation. Miners deserve better treatment than they get on the Forest. BLM has no problem with sending copies of correspondence to me if the miner requests this. I keep a duplicate set of records, and in case the miner can’t find a letter, I will have a copy in my files. This is really important with the Forest Service, since the Forest Service will not allow a miner to look through his/her own Forest Service file.

I will let miners with LPOAs know what the Forest Service attorney says about providing me, as their agent, copies of correspondence.

At the Round Table meeting, Field Manager for the BLM, Lorrie Wood, said she is prepared to sign the Don Jay Mining EA and it will go out for public comment. The Pine Creek reclamation project was discussed. The miner had to seed using native species, and $4000 of his cost was for sagebrush seed. Nothing at all grew. There was discussion that without topsoil, native seed will not germinate. There needs to be some flexibility so that non- persistent non-native seed mixes can be used so sites are stabilized and noxious weeds do not move in. BLM will meet about mining reclamation seed mixes and work with the miners on a seed mix that will actually grow.

Don Gonzales, District Manager for BLM, stated that the Baker County sage grouse population is up. Ken Alexander asked if there would be changes in how the BLM lands are administered. Don said no changes will be made. He said the segregation lapsed September 24, 2017 and these lands are again open to staking claims. BLM does not know if the withdrawal will take place or not.
The new Forest Service Chief is Tony Tooke. Jeff said he knew of no new direction on the National Forest lands from the Chief. Miners are sure wanting some new direction.

The Forest Service still has not updated their list of Plans of Operation that are approved and bonded. Ken will help them update the list, since two of his approved Plans are not listed. Miners with proposed Plans in the Powder watershed will not be given copies of the maps generated by the Forest Service using hand held gps units. I had requested copies of these maps be sent to all the miners so they could be sure that the area being analyzed in the EIS was the correct area. Several of the maps that I did see were not correct. In the Granite EIS, miners did not find out what their project area was until the EIS was published. One miner I worked with ended up with a ¼ acre area to mine over a ten year period. Jeff said the miners could not see these maps because they were “internal documents” and thus, belonged to the Forest Service.

DEQ has contacted EOMA, along with other mining organizations in this area, to take part in an
informational discussion on the 700PM water quality general permit and new restrictions and fees for suction dredge mining established in Senate Bill 3.  Space will be limited, so DEQ is asking that interested miners give their suggestions to Jan Alexander and Chuck Chase for EOMA, Kurtis Kinder for EOMP, Pam and Jim Haney for GPAA/LDMA. Topics will include: New requirements established by Senate Bill 3, Fees, Next steps for incorporating SB 3 requirements into the 700PM water quality general permit.  This meeting will be held on Monday, October 30 from 1:30pm to 3:30pm in the conference room at the Baker City Library.

Assessment work must have been completed by September 1, 2017. Miners must have done at least $100 worth of assessment per claim. If you haven’t sent in your proof of labor yet, BLM must receive it by the end of December. If you forgot to send in your small miner waiver, the proof of labor will not help. You will have to refile your claims.

Last month’s newsletter contained the sentence, “It is important for miners to realize that demands by the FS do not mean anything unless they are in writing.” A little clarification of the meaning of these words is in order. Ironically, I first heard this statement from a Forest Service District Ranger years ago, “if it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen”. The basic point here is, that if you think the FS employee on the ground is telling you to do something that you disagree with, you need to request that this requirement be put in writing. That way both you and the FS have a clear understanding of the request. This will not only give you a chance to appeal to a higher authority if necessary, but it will also allow you some time to verify that the request or demand is reasonable and legal. You will also have time to think about unintended consequences that the requested action may have on your operation.

“All manufacturers depend on minerals and metals,” notes NMA President and CEO Hal Quin in his response to the Department of Commerce’s Request for Information on Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing. He also notes, however, that current federal policies are restricting industrial and economic growth. Burdensome and duplicative policies are placed on the mining industry, inhibiting manufacturers’ timely access to the raw materials they need. In addition, protracted delays can last up to a decade, preventing some mining projects from ever breaking ground.

As a result, the U.S. has become 100 percent import-reliant on 20 minerals and 50 percent import-reliant on an additional 30 minerals. Import costs and reliance on unstable supply chains create additional complications for U.S. businesses and manufacturers. More information can be found on the National Mining Association website and:

The convention this year will be at the Nugget Casino in Sparks, Nevada. Short courses on Monday and Tuesday include “Minimizing Permitting Pitfalls & Delays”,” U.S Mining Law” and “Fundamentals of Mineral & Metallurgical Processing”. Technical sessions begin on Wednesday, December 6 and run through Friday December 8. Ian Madan, Deputy Director for DOGAMI, will talk about Mine Permitting in Oregon. Minerals development and mining in other states and other countries are also topics, as well as bonding and reclamation. The legislative updates are particularly important for miners working on public lands. There is also a session on Public Lands, one on President Trump’s executive orders to shape regulatory reforms, one on ways of achieving an effective and efficient NEPA process, plus a whole lot more..

EOMA members Chuck Chase and Frank Mason will be attending the convention. Dr. Thom Seal, who lives in Nevada, will also be attending for EOMA. We thank these members for attending, and look forward to a full report on the convention at our January meeting.

The National Minerals Association represents the larger scale mining operations in the U.S.A. But what works for the “big boys” works for us too. It was pointed out recently, that we all need to remember there is more to mining than precious metals and jewelry.

“The unique and versatile properties of minerals play a crucial role in many medical advancements,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association. “Few people are aware of the role minerals play in many technological advancements, but especially advancements in healthcare and medicine, like prosthetics, chemotherapy, X-rays and cardiology.”

MINING IN BAKER COUNTY 1861 TO 1959-Norm Wagner
Baker County mining began with the discovery of gold in Griffin Gulch in 1861. This and the development which followed at Auburn represents gold mining at its historic best. Since 1861, much water has flowed down the sluice boxes with respect to mineral resources development within the county. As a result, the discovery story is left for historians to tell, and the following paragraphs are devoted to the high points of the many kinds of mining endeavors that occurred in Baker County between 1861 and 1959.

Hydraulic and sluicing operations
All of the earlier placer operations have one thing in common with Griffin Gulch and Auburn. This is that they were carried out by means of ground sluicing and hydraulicking, using generous amounts of hand labor. These means of handling placer ground continued in exclusive use throughout the first forty years of Baker County mining history. It wasn’t until the present century that the more familiar bucket-line- dredges and other kinds of mechanical digging and washing plants made their appearance. Even yet the old methods are still employed on a small scale in circumstance where ground conditions permit.

The Rye Valley placers on Dixie Creek present a notable example of an early discovery made shortly after 1862. This placer ground lay in the bed of Dixie Creek and also on high bars blanketing the foot hills along both sides of the creek. Unlike Griffin Gulch and Auburn, where production fell off dramatically after a few years of intensive mining, the Rye Valley placers supported operations more or less continually until about 1914, and mining on a small scale basis lasted even longer. Scarcity of water forced seasonal operations which accounts in part for the long life of these pacers. The mining was done by hydraulicking and ground sluicing, and the yardage of ground that was moved over the years was tremendous.

The placers of the Sparta District were also found to be auriferous at a very early date, but lack of water precluded operations until completion of the Sparta ditch in 1873. Production then flourished until about 1890 when output diminished due to exhaustion of workable placer gravels.

Other placers, some early discoveries and some not so early, were found and worked by primitive methods in many parts of Baker County. Areas include the Sumpter District placers discovered in 1862, the Mormon Basin placers, and many different localities in the Eagle, Sanger and Burnt River Districts. While interesting stories could be told about many of these areas, the Connor Creek and Pine Creek placers are singled out here because of their similarities and differences. For example, both creeks were exceptionally rich in heavy specimen or “nugget gold.” A great number of the spectacular specimens in the famous gold exhibit of the First National Bank in Baker City came from Pine Creek, and many other Pine Creek specimens have gone to collections elsewhere. On the other hand, comparatively few specimens of Connor creek gold exist today. The reason for this is that Pine Creek placer, discovered as recently as 1897, has supported virgin production up to within the past few years and has been a source of collector’s specimens. But the Connor Creek placer was an early discovery that had already been “worked over twice” when seen by Lindgren in 1901, and the cream of its nugget crop went to the melting furnaces long years before specimen nuggets were held in esteem as collectors’ items. After all, there once was a time when our national currency was backed by coins made of gold, even though this too is now a matter of history. The melting pot was then more important than a showcase shelf of nugget gold.
Keith, a long time EOMA member and miner and hard rock mill man, is retiring and selling out and hanging it up. Keith has built up a reputation for milling ore from mines around Baker County over the last twenty to thirty years. Keith owns a complete mill circuit, including floatation cells and crushing plant. Years ago, he had his hard rock gold recovery plant set up in the old mining plant just south of where Triple C Ready Mix, is and was doing recovery work for a number of miners. At that time, Jeff Young was mining the old workings at the Virtue Mine, and Keith was working with Jeff to separate the gold from the ore that Jeff was mining. If my memory serves me right, they got into too much sulfide, and had no process to recover the gold. In this this day and age, that wouldn’t be a problem.

Check the ad section for an interesting opportunity.

In the back of this newsletter, you will find tickets for a Keene highbanker, which was donated to EOMA by Thomas Adams of LaGrande to be used as a fundraiser. Tickets are one for $1.00 and 6 for $5.00. This is a nice unit, guaranteed to get you the gold!

The drawing for this piece of equipment will be on December 1, 2017 at the EOMA meeting in Baker City. You do not need to be present to win.

These are currently selling for $50.00 apiece plus $5.00 shipping, handling, and insurance. (Prices are subject to change). Christmas is coming, and these medallions make great gifts! You can order yours from the EOMA website, and pay by pay-pal. Or, you can send $50 plus $5.00 shipping and handling to EOMA, Medallions, PO Box 932, Baker City, OR 97814, or call 541-523-3285. Also, we will have them for you to buy at our EOMA meetings.

Eastern Oregon Mining Association now has a Facebook page. For those of you who use Facebook, check it out. For those of you who don't, it may be time to learn!

There is a step by step photo display of a couple of miners who are building trommels. Sign in, and come learn, add your suggestions, and get to know other miners.

There is also a Facebook page for Oregon Mining Association. There is lots of useful information on this site.

It is not hard to become a user of Facebook once you get used to the idea that Facebook “friends” can have a little different meaning than what you may have thought of as “friends” as you were growing up. Facebook certainly gives you the opportunity to share info not
found in the mainstream media. https://www.facebook.com/OregonMiningAssociation/