Two mining companies want to develop nickel-laterite strip mines on thousands of acres of National Forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holdings in Southwest Oregon.
Lateritic nickel ore deposits occur in ultramafic rock, such as the unique serpentine rock found in the Kalmiopsis region. The extraction of laterite nickel involves open cut mining methods, such as strip mining. Extraction of nickel from the soil is done through a water-intensive process called high-pressure acid leaching. This process commonly leads to erosion and water contamination of toxic by-products.
Three mining projects are proposed in the pristine headwaters of the Wild and Scenic North Fork Smith and Illinois Rivers, and Hunter Creek. Two of the projects are in the South Kalmiopsis Roadless Area, threatening Rough and Ready Creek, a tributary to the Wild and Scenic Illinois River.
Nickel mining poses dangerous consequences for human health, water quality, and salmon habitat, while providing no long-term benefit to the local economy. The detrimental effects of strip mining would undo the decades of investments that Oregonians and Californians have made to protect watersheds that sustain a local economy which thrives on recreation, healthy salmon populations, and strong communities. For more information, see Friends of the Kalmiopsis.
How you can help:
Support legislation to withdraw these treasured public lands from the 1872 Mining Law and protect our wild rivers from spoilage. Legislation to withdraw the National Forest and Bureau of Land Management holdings in their watersheds is the essential precursor to their permanent protection.