Residents of Mogollon, NM have banded together to oppose a new mining exploration project just outside of their community of 15 people. Vancouver-based Summa Silver Corporation has been exploring for gold and silver on 1.44 acres of private land just to the west of the community.
Residents had no idea exploration would be taking place in their backyards until the surveyors happened to mention it to one of the locals. Because the exploration is considered “minimal impact” (since it will disturb fewer than 40 acres), the NM Mining Act does not require public notice or a public participation process, despite the fact that these activities can cause serious disturbance and degradation to the land, water, and ecosystems.
Residents have serious concerns about the impacts of the exploration on their water supplies, the endangered Mexican Spotted Owl, roads, noise, night skies, and the livelihoods and quality of life for local community members. In response to public comments, State agencies have required Mexican Spotted Owl surveys be conducted over two years in compliance with best management practices and that the company not conduct operations during the owl breeding season and fledgling-dependent period.
Residents are diligently watch-dogging exploration activities by Summa and reporting back to state agencies if anything is occurring outside of the company’s permits. This kind of oversight is needed to ensure that there is accountability for actions that could threaten their community.
Summa Silver is reportedly working to expand its explorations onto public lands in the Gila National Forest which could jeopardize water supplies, sacred sites, and Mexican Spotted Owl habitat.
Given the potential for significant impacts to the endangered Mexican Spotted Owl and local water supplies, this exploration project should not be considered “minimal impact,” and Summa Silver should be required to submit a regular exploration permit application. This will require more rigorous analysis, public notice, and public participation. Mogollon residents deserve at least that much.