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Freeport-McMoRan to permanently remove mining claims from Mount Emmons and transfer back to U.S. Forest Service
Gene Kooper
post Oct 1 2016, 07:29 PM
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Published this evening in the online Denver Post.

Crested Butte celebrates as longest running mine battle in the West nears end

QUOTE
CRESTED BUTTE — This end-of-the-road village has spent nearly 40 years transforming itself from a mining town into a thriving tourist destination despite the threat of a huge molybdenum mine on the hill overlooking downtown.

But the final chapter in the longest running mine fight in the West may soon be written.

Freeport-McMoRan — the world’s largest moly producer and owner of the Climax Mine near Leadville and the soon-to-shutter Henderson Mine near Empire — has inked a preliminary deal to permanently remove mining claims from Mount Emmons and return about 9,000 acres to the Forest Service. It will also work with Crested Butte to continue treating tainted water flowing from a long-defunct mine on the mountain.

For decades, every time molybdenum prices peaked, locals raised money and filed lawsuits to fight a proposed 1,000-worker mine digging 25 million tons of high-grade moly from the belly of beloved Mount Emmons. The crusade was at times so pitched that residents pledged to lay down in the middle of Whiterock Avenue to block ore-hauling trucks.

From the article it appears that if the town of Crested Butte can raise $2,000,000 Freeport-McMoRan will give up nearly 9,000 acres of unpatented lode claims on Mt. Emmons. Sen. Bennet has agreed to sponsor a bill that the article implies will permanently remove the area covered by those claims from mineral entry. At least that is how I read the story. The townsfolk and environmentalists are hailing this proposed action as forever removing Mt. Emmons and its large moly deposit from ever being mined.

The article implies that the Gold King Mine disaster acted as a catalyst for Freeport-McMoRan's decision. The company will still operate a water treatment plant to treat acidic metal-laden water that discharges into Coal Creek.
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Clay Diggins
post Oct 4 2016, 08:21 AM
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Interesting... Moly prices are at their lowest since 2004 and development money for moly is nonexistent. Freeport is willing to sell their claims for about $4,600 a piece to Crested Butte. Claims that are costing about $160 a year each to maintain - $70,000 a year for the group.

I'm guessing once the deal is done some Junior will make new claims there after buying the discovery proof from Freeport. Then it won't matter if they manage to pull off a mineral withdrawal or not.

I'm thinking Crested Butte is about to get a very expensive lesson in mining law. eating-popcorn-03.gif
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Gene Kooper
post Oct 6 2016, 07:45 PM
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I'm afraid you lost me, Clay. I don't know how you managed to extract out of the story that some "Junior" will be "buying the discovery proof from Freeport" and somehow the townsfolk of Crested Butte will get screwed. Not to squeeze too much out of the story, but it appears to me that Senator Bennet will try and get legislation passed that will withdraw the Public Lands on Mt. Emmons from mineral entry. If/When that occurs then Freeport will abandon their claims for the small price of $2,000,000. That is, if the townsfolk of Crested Butte approve a "tax" to raise the $2 million and the town then cuts a check to Freeport.

I don't see anyone getting an education in mining law wherein they get screwed by some shrewd "Junior". So, since the story only covers an initial nonbinding agreement, I'll wager you a dollar that your scenario doesn't happen. Okay?
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Clay Diggins
post Oct 6 2016, 11:07 PM
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Thanks for the offer Gene but I'll have to decline, I'm not a betting man.

Virtually exactly the same situation just happened in California over the last few weeks so you might want to consider the possibility seriously.
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EMac
post Oct 7 2016, 09:26 AM
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Which case was that in CA?


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Clay Diggins
post Oct 7 2016, 01:33 PM
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Castle Mountain National Monument surrounding the producing private Victory Gold Mine in California.

Deal was made and claims were located prior to the order over previous discovery around the mine. Dirty deal on the part of the executive was checkmated by transfer of discovery to junior. I've made maps and will be publishing details next month.
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EMac
post Oct 7 2016, 02:06 PM
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QUOTE
Castle Mountain National Monument surrounding the producing private Victory Gold Mine in California.

After some digging, I found it's actually the Viceroy mine, not Victory. I couldn't find much, except this article.

If you've got something interesting, I'm curious.



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Clay Diggins
post Oct 7 2016, 07:11 PM
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You can see that process for yourself.

Look in the presidential proclamation creating the monument. As with all national monuments prior existing rights are preserved in a savings clause. "The establishment of the monument is subject to valid existing rights"

Now look at the active claims status around the mine but in the monument boundary. See all those new claims? Those claims are as good as gone unless they can prove a discovery. They will be challenged.

Do you think those claims might also include proof of discovery accomplished by the mine over it's last 35 years of exploration? If so that would establish "valid existing rights". That proof of discovery is very valuable in combination with existing claims. Essentially, as far as mining goes, the monument withdrawal has no effect in that circumstance.

California has been trying to close that mine by hook or by crook for more than 20 years. Sound like the situation in Crested Butte? The fact that both mines have private land and valid existing claims around them makes any effort to use mineral withdrawals pretty much ineffective. Anybody who owns the proven discovery and the location associated with it is golden as long as they make their filings and fees timely.

This situation is perfect for all those politicians looking for votes in an election year. They do the "right" thing to please the townies and then blame their failed plans on their fellow congresscritters or, in the case of an executive withdrawal, the "antiquated" mining laws. Big mining is happy and townies are pleased their congresscritter is working for them. The rest is cotton candy and rainbows. Townies get their cell phones and new cars - mining continues to mine the metals for those cell phones and cars.
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EMac
post Oct 10 2016, 02:04 PM
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I'm still not following. I don't see any new entities coming into the discussion in CA:

Doing the research you don't provide (this is a theme btw), I see there are 7 active claimants in areas 015N018E, 014N017E & 014N018E for a total of 781 active claims. 590 lode claims, 86 millsites and 105 placers. By far the largest claimants are Castle Mountain Venture and Viceroy Gold Corp which account for 733 of those claims. Looking closer, it appears they're the same folks: Newcastle Corp out of Canada. The claims naming scheme uses sequential numbering, and we can see at CMM-119 that they switch from the claimant being Castle Mountain to Viceroy. 347 of those claims were filed in 2016, and of those, 104 lode claims were filed after the proclamation on 12 Feb 2016. I'm not seeing any juniors or external folks moving in on the action.

The oddest part to me is that Newcastle filed 104 claims after the proclamation, and 243 claims just prior to the proclamation. If I have the time, I'll dig into that, but I'm hoping someone here knows more. I do not see that a flood of new miners descended on the Castle Mountains filing claims. The last claimant I could find not associated with Newcastle filed their claims in 2008. My theory is the "new" claims are administrative actions as part of the national monument withdrawal.

Here's the LR2000 report that can be parsed in Excel: Attached File  Castle_Mountain.txt ( 82.46K ) Number of downloads: 18


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Clay Diggins
post Oct 10 2016, 09:44 PM
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Thanks for the response EMac. I'm curious - is your EMac moniker related to the GNU releases?

I've provided my research sources whenever you have asked. The lack of research results might be called a "theme" but it's really more forum policy. My own library holds more than 300,000 items. I keep a current local copy of the BLM databases on my intranet for quick reference. I am very confident that what I write can be verified with some effort on the part of the diligent researcher.

Simple LR2000 claims reports don't tell the whole story. You might look into the transfers of interest taking place and a looksee at the addresses of those named claimants can lead to some interesting trails.

Here's some more information to encourage your further research in the meantime.
New Castle Gold
Monument deal
That last link might lead you to clear up the part you consider "odd". Feel free to make your own conclusions and publish them. Or you can wait until my map and report are public next month and search for them on the internet.

I'm not sure why you would think there would be a "flood of new miners"? Perhaps you have discussed this elsewhere and have that discussion confused with my writings on this subject? I certainly didn't imply anything of that sort.

Hope that helps you in your search. biggrin.gif
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EMac
post Oct 11 2016, 08:42 AM
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EMac is just a nickname I picked up in MN years ago. People at work would take your first initial and last few letters to give you your new name. Eric McFarland resulted in EMac. Software is definitely not my forte...

The 2nd link explained the latest claims; I wasn't looking at locations compared to the monument, and see they say those claims are outside it.

I was trying to tie Newcastle/Viceroy/Castle Mountain Mining back to your comments around Crested Butte:
QUOTE
I'm guessing once the deal is done some Junior will make new claims there after buying the discovery proof from Freeport. Then it won't matter if they manage to pull off a mineral withdrawal or not.

I'm thinking Crested Butte is about to get a very expensive lesson in mining law. eating-popcorn-03.gif

I interpret this to be that someone will come in and file new claims in Crested Butte, after Freeport sells rights to the town and prior to the withdrawal of the lands for mineral exploration. Extrapolating that out to CA, one would think that 3rd parties filed a bunch of claims prior to the proclamation. I don't see that happened in CA, so I'm not sure how it applies to Crested Butte. Moreover, if Newcastle has no claims in the monument area as they say, then the withdrawal piece of this puzzle is a red herring.

I feel obtuse....what am I missing? This is an interesting topic, particularly in light that there are movements out there seeking to turn over federal, public land to the states. I'm not sure where I stand on that since I haven't done the analysis, but the idea is scary since I'm skeptical that it would benefit small-scale prospectors.


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Clay Diggins
post Oct 11 2016, 10:45 AM
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QUOTE (EMac @ Oct 11 2016, 09:42 AM) *
I interpret this to be that someone will come in and file new claims in Crested Butte, after Freeport sells rights to the town and prior to the withdrawal of the lands for mineral exploration. Extrapolating that out to CA, one would think that 3rd parties filed a bunch of claims prior to the proclamation. I don't see that happened in CA, so I'm not sure how it applies to Crested Butte. Moreover, if Newcastle has no claims in the monument area as they say, then the withdrawal piece of this puzzle is a red herring.

I feel obtuse....what am I missing? This is an interesting topic, particularly in light that there are movements out there seeking to turn over federal, public land to the states. I'm not sure where I stand on that since I haven't done the analysis, but the idea is scary since I'm skeptical that it would benefit small-scale prospectors.

The new claims are not owned by New Castle Gold. They are owned by Castle Mountain Venture and Viceroy Gold Corp as you already pointed out. That's why I gave you the link to the 2015 corporate name change and suggested you look into the transfers of interest. If you follow that trail you will find that "3rd parties filed a bunch of claims prior to the proclamation".
New Castle is being completely honest when they state:
QUOTE
We are pleased to report that the Company's claim holdings, private land held by the Company and certain adjacent BLM lands are not included in the Monument.

But that's not the whole truth. Find out who owns Castle Mountain Venture and Viceroy Gold Corp and you will understand why the situation in Crested Butte is related.

As far as the States taking over the federal managed public lands you really don't need to consider that possibility. All the western public land States agreed to never attempt to take the public lands into their State as one of the conditions of Statehood. From the Colorado Enabling Act Section 6:
QUOTE
And be it further enacted, That the legislative power of the Territory shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of the act; but no law shall be passed interfering with the primary disposal of the soil; no tax shall be imposed upon the property of the United States

You will find something similar in all the other western public land states.
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EMac
post Oct 11 2016, 01:46 PM
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I'm still lost as to what you're trying to get across; I don't see much difference in who is doing the mining in the Castle Mountains, so I'm not making the connections you are. If you have evidence otherwise, please link to it.

For all intents and purposes they're the same folks operating under a general partnership: Newcastle news release

QUOTE
NewCastle has 100% of the right, title and beneficial interest in and to the Castle Mountain Venture, a California general partnership, which owns the Castle Mountain property (the “Project”) in San Bernardino County, California, (7,458 acres in total).


You can look on the claim files and see that both Castle Mountain Ventures and Viceroy Gold Corp have the same PO Box in Searchlight, NV.
Attached Image

Attached Image


I'm muddying the waters with my comments around public lands transfers to the states. You're more confident this isn't possible than the state legislators are. I'll have to read more about the Enabling Act, but I'm skeptical just reading the excerpt. From it alone we can see they distinguish between soil and land. It speaks to primary disposition of soil, but refers to land when it comes to taxing. Moreover, I fully expect this topic to be reintroduced into the Colorado legislature as a new version of defeated SB 15-232. We're stuck now since we have a Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled House (Baumgardner says he's "billed up" already and the vote would have little chance of passing a Democrat-controlled House; Source: Colorado Statesman).


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Gene Kooper
post Oct 21 2016, 11:40 PM
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Emac,

Thanks for your responses. I am just as confused as you are with Clay's replies. The preliminary agreement between Freeport and the "folks" of Crested Butte is completely different from the situation in California that Clay insists is identical. I predict that once Clay has completed his maps you will be just as confused as you are now with his position. I'm pretty sure that Clay will have some more rabbit holes for us to look at though! rolleyes.gif
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Gene Kooper
post Nov 2 2016, 09:32 PM
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For those interested below are links to some documents related to the preliminary agreement between Freeport-McMoRan, Crested Butte and several environmental entities. I have yet to find the Memorandum of Intent (MOI), but did find the February 12, 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which started things. I also included a link to the Town of Crested Butte's Sept. 6 meeting minutes (See pages 6-8) that discusses the agreement and several articles from the Crested Butte News on the Mt. Emmons agreement. They provide more in-depth reporting of the agreement than the Denver Post's summary article.

Memorandum of Understanding for Mt. Emmons

Minutes Town of Crested Butte Regular Town Council Meeting Tuesday September 6, 2016 Council Chambers, Crested Butte Town Hall

Crested Butte News Search = "Mt. Emmons"
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