"Support Builds in Congress Over Mining Reform"

"ELKO, Nev. --  After years of negotiations between environmentalists and industry groups, observers say efforts to reform a century-old law regulating mining may finally pick up steam in Congress.

Among proposals to reform the 1872 Mining Law are plans to implement royalties on mining profits for the first time and reclamation fees for cleaning up abandoned mines. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had testified to a Senate committee in July 2009 that he wanted reform that protects mining, protects the environment and provides for the cleanup of such mines.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, the New Mexico Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is shepherding the broadest plan, which calls for an adjusted 2 percent to 5 percent royalty after transportation and processing costs are taken out. It also gives the Interior Department more discretion on environmental matters and calls for the money raised under the bill to be used for reclaiming abandoned mine lands.

The proposal has the support of a number of conservation groups, including the Washington D.C.-based Earthworks."

The Associated Press had the story January 4, 2010.

Monday, January 4, 2010