Eastern Oregon Mining Association
Eastern Oregon Mining Association
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- Eastern Oregon Mining Association
- 20161102

Volume 326

EOMA INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.h2oaccess.com/

Meetings are held on the first Friday of the month. The next meeting is Friday, NOVEMBER 4TH, 2016 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. Don’t forget there is a drawing for a $50 silver medallion at the meeting!

The Eastern Oregon Mining Association received some criticism from one of our major mining industry partners when we reported in the newsletter that there was local interest in the updating and organizing of Mining Districts. It was pointed out at the last meeting of the EOMA that the Mining Association itself is not directly involved in the organizing of these mining districts. We are certainly interested in how this effort will affect our organization and its members.

It is not exactly clear what being a member of an organized mining district will do to help miners deal with the avalanche of regulations, prohibitions, and general disregard of the rights of miners by federal and state agencies. Scott Harn, editor of the ICMJ Mining Journal, has reported extensively on the power of Mining Districts, and some of the success stories over the past year. The Minerals and Mining Advisory Council has been instrumental in leading this effort. However, the power of Mining Districts is just one part of the equation. The 1872 Mining Act states “….and according to the local customs or rules of miners in the several mining districts, so far as the same are applicable and not inconsistent with the laws of the United States.” Several laws affecting how mining is to be conducted in modern times have been passed by Congress, and these laws are ignored at the miner’s risk. Nevertheless, miners waiting for more than ten years, and many still waiting, for the Forest Service to approve their small scale mining Plans of Operation, have waited long enough. Miners need some kind of help getting the Forest Service to approve POOs.
These ten year and longer time-frames are, bluntly speaking, outrageous. Now the States are piling on with outright bans on mining under the guise of temporary moratoriums, and the State talks about exaggerated environmental damages. It is just plain wrong when a person has invested thousands of dollars in property and equipment under the guarantees and encouragement of the Federal government and then is completely denied the ability to develop his privately held minerals. The EOMA is still pursuing and expecting that some balance and justice will be attained through the courts. Unfortunately, the courts have become an expensive, slow, and politicized process. However, Organized Mining Districts may provide another avenue to assert the rights legally granted to the individual miners trying to explore, develop and mine their minerals.

It seems like all miners do anymore is be involved in lawsuits. Our lawsuit over what permit should be required for Oregon suction dredge miners is waiting for the appeals court to make a decision. There is also a lawsuit over SB838 and the prohibition of mining within the beds and banks of ESH waterways. The attorney bills keep coming in, but not much has happened. We will keep you informed if the courts make any decisions.

There have been no changes in DEQ's waste water regulations, and no changes in water quality standards. DEQ's website states: The Water Quality Program's mission is to protect and improve Oregon's water quality. Protecting Oregon's rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater quality keeps these waters safe for a multitude of beneficial uses such as drinking water, fish habitat, recreation and irrigation. This is accomplished by developing and implementing water quality standards and clean water plans...The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality uses water quality standards to assess whether the quality of Oregon's rivers and lakes is adequate for fish and other aquatic life, recreation, drinking, agriculture, industry and other uses. DEQ also uses the standards as regulatory tools to prevent pollution of the state's waters".

As I read through the new DEQ 600 renewal application, I wonder what the depth of overburden, size of excavations, whether you blast and what access roads you use have to do with water quality. DEQ water quality regulations have not changed, yet it appears that DEQ is now trying to administer small scale mining operations rather than water quality. As if we didn't have enough oversight with BLM and Forest Service.

Baker County's recommendation to the Forest Service when it comes to minerals administration is as follows: "Manage the minerals program to provide for exploration, development and production of a variety of minerals on the Forest in coordination with other resource objectives, environmental considerations and mining laws".
How nice it would be if the Forest Service listened. This is what they are supposed to do now under the 1990 Forest Plan.

DEQ has sent letters to miners with mobile and non-mobile general 600 permits (settling pond permits) informing them that they must fill out the on-line application and send to DEQ by December 31, 2016 . The cover letter on the application states: "Permit holders currently registered to the permit MUST complete this form and submit it to DEQ by December 31, 2016, to ensure permit coverage following the expiration date. No fee is required. DEQ will terminate permit coverage if the renewal application is not received by the permit expiration date".

There are a lot of problems with this permit application. (1) DEQ requires that miners use DEQ's on line map, yet many miners do not have computers, or internet service, and if they do, the map only works sometimes. (2) The form is supposed to be completed on line and printed, since it cannot be saved. If you make one mistake you must go back into the website and start all over. (I suggest miners print the blank form and fill these out by hand). (3) Miners must pinpoint every place they will mine and/or process placer gravel, using latitude and longitude. (4) If you can't make DEQ's on-line map work, you are instructed not to use other GPS devices. (5) Many miners do not know where they might be working next season, especially if they are looking at properties to claim or purchase. Also, geologists, consultants and others used to be able to test various properties for clients under their own mobile permits. This is not now possible with the new permit. (6) The permit contains 11 pages. It goes on and on, there are two sections labeled E, many pages do not have page numbers. I have not heard from anyone yet, who has figured the darn thing out.

Jim Billings of DEQ suggested that whether miners have a mobile or non-mobile permit now, they need to keep their options open and renew as mobile. I am not sure what that means but we can all have mobile permits, I guess.

DEQ is also changing the definition of "facility". In the last two DEQ 600 permits, "facility" referred to the settling ponds and wash plant, and that made sense because DEQ is in charge of water quality. The distance from the facility to any waterways was pertinent information because this could be important in determining effects to water quality. Now Jim Billings has informed me that the mining area (or is it the claim?) is the "facility". That makes no sense to me. The size of the operation, the depth of topsoil, access roads, and whether you did blasting has nothing to do with water quality. Anyway, we are stuck with this application. Anyone who needs help with it can call me at 541-446-3413.

At our December EOMA meeting, we will have the drawing for the Minelab SD 2200-D metal detector. This is a complete set up. It comes with a battery, a spare battery, a large and a small head, a carrying case, belt, pick holder and a complete charging package. Also included are the instruction books. This is a $2,500 value. Tickets are selling for $1.00 for one ticket or 6 tickets for $5.00. See the ticket form attached to this newsletter. Fill out the Multiple Entry Form along with your check and send to EOMA, P.O. Box 932, Baker City, OR 97814. We will fill your tickets out for you. Or come to the next meeting and buy your tickets then.
Scott Horngren and Caroline Lobdell are attorneys representing Chad Marmolejo, Tommy Partee and Roy Campbell, all miners in the Granite watershed whose operations are affected by SB838. These miners stepped forward to be a part of this lawsuit, along with OMA, and these miners are representing the rest of the miners on ESH waterways.

The case was originally filed in Grant County Circuit Court.  A defendant has a right to transfer or "remove" a case to federal court if the case presents a "federal question," which in our case is whether SB 838 violates the U.S. Constitution. Because of this, the case was removed to federal court and is assigned to Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan in Pendleton.  Judge Sullivan ruled in the Pringle case in favor of the state that the Oregon Scenic Waterways Act does not preempt mining, and given her record she is not the best judge for our case. However, because she is a magistrate judge hired by the other judges, she actually cannot decide the case, but only can make recommendations to an "Article III Judge" who is appointed by Congress under Art. III of the Constitution.

The State defendants have moved to dismiss our case. We have until November 15 to respond. The State relies on three cases in particular - the Pringle case and the recently decided Bohmker and Rinehart cases. These three cases all rejected federal preemption challenges to mining. The Bohmker case involved a challenge by miners in southern Oregon to SB 838 and in the Rinehart case, the California Supreme Court rejected a preemption challenge to state mining regulations in the context of a criminal case.

While it may seem that this is an uphill battle, the attorneys believe this case is different from the other three cases mentioned above. The Forest Service under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will be approving very controlled mining in the Granite Mining District through an NFMA forest land-use plan, an Environmental Impact Statement under NEPA, and biological opinions under the ESA.  Yet even under these circumstances, the SB 838 moratorium still precludes the orderly exploration, economic development, and extraction under the federal mining laws of precious minerals in-stream and within 100 yards of waterways where mining operations are located.

The Department of Treasury’s Judgment Fund database tracks how much federal agencies have paid out for lawsuits and court settlements, but doesn’t track the names of the individuals or groups that are actually suing the government.
More than $49 million in taxpayer funds was paid to lawyers suing the Obama administration under three major environmental statutes, The DCNF found. Environmental activists have gotten millions from taxpayers suing the government to expand federal regulation.
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2016/08/15/exclusive-feds-hiding-25-million-in-payments-to-lawyers-suing-under-environmental-laws/#ixzz4OEuYATzH
Miners whose Plans of Operation were analyzed in the Granite Mining Projects EIS (many of these Plans of Operation are for mining sites adjacent to ESH waterways) waited over ten years for operating plan approval. To date, none of these Plans has been approved, even though the Record of Decision was signed last summer.

I keep wondering, what is the Forest Service waiting for? Maybe they have taken a look at the new DEQ 600 application where it warns (threatens) miners, "if a placer mining operation has motorized digging equipment (e.g. backhoe, dozer), it is likely restricted from operating within 100 yards upland perpendicular to the line of the ordinary high water adjacent to moratorium waters because it likely results in the removal or disturbance of streamside vegetation in a manner that may impact water quality". Even with the extensive analysis all Plans in the Granite watershed were subjected to, and the pages and pages of mitigation measures required so that water quality could not possibly be impacted, it appears that DEQ believes miners, even with approved Plans of Operation and bonds, are still not protected from State law enforcement.

When renewing their 600 permits, DEQ requires miners to pinpont (latitude and longitude) where their operations are located. They require miners to use the moratorium map of ESH and bull trout waterways, and DEQ wants to know if your operation is adjacent to any of these waterways. They want you to provide a map of your mining site and road access. DEQ will issue the WPCF renewal, even for miners adjacent to ESH streams, but they will be collecting information which will be available to the public.

So, should miners keep pursuing an approved Plan of Operation in the Granite watershed? That is your own decision to make. The thing to remember is this-the State law only prohibits "removal or disturbance of streamside vegetation in a manner that may impact water quality". If you are careful not to do this, and adhere strictly to the terms of your Plan of Operation, there is no violation for the State to enforce.

EOMA medallions are beautiful proof grade one ounce silver medallions with the addition of real gold “nuggets” in the pan. We still have a limited supply of previous year's medallions, as well as the gorgeous 2016 medallions. These are currently selling for $50.00 apiece plus $5.00 shipping, handling, and insurance. (Prices are subject to change). 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.

Besides the drawing for the 1/2 pound of gold on June 2, 2017, there will also be drawings for all kinds of mining equipment. The proceeds from ticket sales will go to help pay legal fees for several law suits which are critical to keeping Oregon miners mining. The preliminary drawing will be held December 2, 2016, when several prizes will be given away. The final drawing for 1/2 pound of gold will be held on June 2, 2017. You do not need to be present to win!
Eastern Oregon Mining Association and Oregon Mining Association have Facebook pages.
https://www.facebook.com/OregonMiningAssociation/ OMA has a link to the report to the legislature on the mineral resource potential of Southern and Eastern Oregon.

The advertising listings are only $1 per month to get your ad listed below. Send your ad to: EOMA, Box 932, Baker City, OR 97814 along with your remittance for each month you want us to run your ad. The number next to your ad is how many months your ad has run.

Big Horse Customs has experienced heavy equipment mechanics, a mobile service truck and we can do your welding, fabrication and repairs. Call Sam at 541-519-5751  or  541-519-8196.

FOR SALE M35A2 Army truck w /mounted 10" x 26" reconditioned Austin-Western jaw crusher and new 50 HP Kohler gas driver; discharge classifier.  Used Kamflex elevator feeding new Stuttenroth 2tph impact mill & new 18 HP clutched Honda gas driver w/ classifying variable speed vibratory discharge feeder, all with approx. 12 hrs use.   Also included is a new powder magazine, ATF approved 17" x 24"W x 48'L, (1/2" thick, steel, plywood lined) 800 lb. w/ dolly $40,000

FLOTATION SYSTEM Enclosed trailer mounted flotation system; 8 rebuilt DECO # 5 sub-A float cells plumbed in 4 sets of pairs in series, varispeed paddle system.  Onan 10kw generator, 2 new 35 gal. gas tanks, new 29 gal 150 psi compressor w/ air system plumbed for 120, 90, & 15 psi, 1000 lb electric hoist.  Outrigger stabilization jacks for leveling in the field, 1/8" containment deck, new tires, 384 watts of fluor. lights.  $14,000.00.
Contact Alan Rathmacher, (208) 521-3649 or alanrathmacher@gmail.com   photos available

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Wanted:  Full time caretaker for remote property about 20 miles from John Day, Oregon. Primitive, well insulated house, wood heat only, good water from spring.  Off the grid, power from gas generator if needed.  ¼ mile level driveway off county maintained road.  Must have own chain saw, 4 x 4 vehicle with chains, cut own firewood, and help with chores.  Inquire by e-mail (tseal@unr.edu) or by mail to Caretaker, PO Box 8353, Spring Creek, NV 89815.