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Deal to prevent Yellowstone mine close to being sealed

A delegation from the World Heritage Commission assembled near the site in 1995  
March 4, 1998
Web posted at: 6:55 p.m. EST (2355 GMT)

By Environmental News Network staff

A proposed land exchange to prevent a Canadian mining company from digging for gold a few miles north of Yellowstone National Park is close to becoming a sealed deal. The deal is expected to be closed on May 14.

The New World Gold Mine, owned by Crown Butte Mines Inc., is located just 2 1/2 miles outside the northeast corner of Yellowstone near Cooke City, Montana.

Under a deal brokered between the Clinton administration and the mining company, Crown Butte Mines Inc. will receive government lands worth up to $65 million in exchange for the divestiture of Crown Butte's interest in the mine site.

The proposed New World Gold Mine has long been opposed by environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the National Parks and Conservation Association, because the mine threatened to contaminate groundwater and surface water, harm threatened species habitat and increase population pressure on Yellowstone.

Old Faithful
The mine has long been opposed by environmental groups because of possible water contamination  

Currently, the New World Gold Mine is being appraised by a committee under the direction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that includes experts from the private sector. The committee is to report to Congress on March 14 with the results of the appraisal.

"At the moment, everyone is waiting for the appraisal to come back," said Mike Scott from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

Once the appraisal has been completed, the process of sealing the deal will move forward.

A lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups under the direction of the EarthJustice Legal Defense Fund for violations under the Clean Water Act helped lead to the land exchange deal.

As a result of historic mining activity on the site of the New World Gold Mine, heavy metals were being discharged into the local water supply. The lawsuit claimed that this was in violation of the Clean Water Act because the mining company did not have a federal permit for the discharge.

The environmental groups won the lawsuit and instead of paying out millions of dollars in civil penalties, the mining company agreed to the land exchange deal. About $22 million of the settlement fees will be used to clean up the site.

Copyright 1998, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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