Mining

A strong focus of EcoFlight's work is flying over different mining operations in the Rocky Mountain West. Working closely with national and regional groups, we document the exponential growth in resource extraction that is operating near and sometimes in and under established wilderness and proposed wilderness areas.

Much of the western landscape we work to protect is impacted by the outdated 1872 Mining Law, which even today allows the mining industry to buy valuable mineral bearing public lands for the set 1872 price of no more than $5 per acre. The law was enacted to encourage settlement and development of publicly owned lands in the West. Unfortunately, nearly 150 years later, long after the West has been settled, this mining law is being used to trump all other uses of public lands, even if those lands are the West’s most special places, even if the mines pollute clean water and devastate wildlife habitat.

On every flight, EcoFlight captures images that are then distributed to press and our conservation partners. By giving the aerial perspective to environmental issues, EcoFlight's priority is to support grassroots and national conservation groups in their endeavors to protect the great ecosystems of the West.

Mining by state
Alaska
Arizona
Colorado
Idaho
Montana
Nevada
New Mexico
Texas
Utah
AK AZ CO ID MT NV NM TX UT
FLIGHTS: Mining
Alaska, Bristol Bay - Proposed Pebble Mine
State: Alaska
Region: southwest Alaska, near Lake Iliamna and Lake Clark
Description: The proposed Alaska Pebble Mine project is an extremely large and controversial copper, gold, and molybdenum open-pit mine proposed in one of Alaska’s Crown Jewel watersheds. Draining into Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska, the proposol poses serious threats to clean water and fish habitat... read more
Arizona - Mining
State: Arizona
Description: Arizona is ranked 5th among the 19 states with toxic emissions from the metal mining industry. Eighty-nine percent of the total reported toxic emissions in Arizona come from the mining industry, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory... read more
Arizona - Proposed Oak Flat Copper
State: Arizona
Region: Southeast Arizona
Description: Rio Tinto's Resolution Copper is proposing to mine a rich copper vein near Superior, Arizona. The company is planning a massive block cave mine near the town of Superior, 60 miles east of Phoenix, Arizona. Continue reading...
Arizona - Proposed Rosemont Copper Mine
State: Arizona
Region: Santa Ritas
Description: In 2012 the USFWS announced plans to establish more than 838,000 acres as critical habitat for the endangered jaguar. The habitat area would include the Santa Ritas, where the proposed copper mine would be located.
Arizona, Grand Canyon - Uranium
State: Arizona
Description: There are as many as 10,000 existing mining claims on BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands near the Grand Canyon. In 2012, Secretary of the Interior Salazar ordered a 20-year moratorium on thousands of new mining claims that threaten to industrialize watersheds draining into the Colorado River... read more
Colorado, Climax - Molybdenum
State: Colorado
Description:

The Climax Molybdenum mine is located near Leadville, Colorado.  During it's peak production, the mine was the largest molybdenum producer in the world.  The mine was re-opened in May of 2012 and has cranked up production after being closed for 17 years.

Colorado, Crested Butte - Molybdenum
State: Colorado
Region: Crested Butte
Description: For more than 30 years, the small mountain town of Crested Butte has been battling the prospect of a large scale molybdenum mine in their area. U.S. Energy Corp remains as the sole owner of the mine property and has publicly stated that the company intends to continue efforts to develop the mine... read more
Idaho - DeLamar Gold
State: Idaho
Region: Airport - Owyhee, Oregon to near Boise, Idaho
Description: The DeLamar Mine is an inactive open pit gold mine. The 2,014-acre site is currently undergoing reclamation. EPA inspectors observed a muddy discharge of water into Cabin Gulch from a clay borrow pit during an inspection in 2009. The water from Cabin Gulch eventually flows into the Owyhee River... read more
Idaho - Golden Meadows Exploration Project
State: Idaho
Region: South Fork Salmon River
Description: The Golden Meadows Exploration Project was proposed by the Midas Gold Co. of Vancouver, British Columbia. The exploration operation would have required hauling nearly 3,000,000 gallons of fuel over a three-year period. The Idaho Conservation League was concerned that a diesel or chemical spill at the site or along routes to the site would pose a direct threat to water quality and recovering fish species.
Idaho - Proposed Cumo Mine
State: Idaho
Description: The Boise River provides more than 20% of the drinking water for the city of Boise, helps irrigate over 300,000 acres of farmland and provides outstanding opportunities for recreation, but this clean water source is at risk from a molybdenum mine proposal in its headwaters... read more
Idaho - Thompson Creek Mine
State: Idaho
Description: Thompson Creek Molybdenum Mine is Idaho's largest mine at 3,000 acres and is a serious concern for Idahoans who care for Salmon River country. TCM started molybdenum production in 1983 with annual production of 12-18 million pounds. Moly is used to strengthen steel, in lubricants, and for automobile airbags... read more
Idaho, Blackfoot River - Phosphate
State: Idaho
Region: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Description: The Blackfoot River valley is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, home to hundreds of species of wildlife. The region has seen impacts from dozens of phosphate mines, around half of which are Superfund sites. Proper cleanup and halting of future development are essential... read more
Montana, Butte - Copper
State: Montana
Description: The Berkeley Pit is a former open pit copper mine located in Butte, Montana. It is one mile long by half a mile wide and is filled to a depth of about 900 feet with heavily acidic water and dangerous heavy metals. Since ceasing operations in 1982, it and has become one of the largest federal Superfund sites... read more
Montana, Mike Horse Tailings Dam - Reclamation
State: Montana
Region: Upper Blackfoot River
Description: Today, possibly the biggest threat at the Mike Horse site is the safety of the shored-up tailings dam. The base of the dam is constructed with two million cubic yards of toxic tailings, and water is seeping out, indicating that the dam could be eroding from within. Read More...
Nevada, Elko – Gold
State: Nevada
Region: Elko Nevada
Description: Nevada is the third largest gold producer in the world after South Africa (first) and Australia (second). Current mining operations have disturbed more than 100,400 acres of land in Nevada. Some gold mining pits are so large that they can be seen from outer space... read more
New Mexico, Otero Mesa - Mining
State: New Mexico
Region: near Las Cruces, New Mexico
Description: Conservation groups have worked successfully to safeguard Otero Mesa from oil/gas development for over a decade, but there is a new and even more volatile threat to this wild desert grassland - mining for rare earth minerals, used in the electronics, medical imaging, high tech and even green industries... read more
Texas, Hudspeth County - Mining
State: Texas
Region: near El Paso, Texas
Description:

Just 60 miles south of Otero Mesa in Hudspeth County, Texas, a rare earth mine is already in the early stages of what will likely become a vast open-pit mine. The Texas project is moving forward with great speed and scope, and is focused now on Round Top Mountain, a 5,732-foot peak in the Sierra Blanca Range... read more

Utah - Bingham Canyon Mine
State: Utah
Region: Salt Lake City, Oquirrh Mountains
Description: Kennecott's Bingham Canyon Mine is situated directly east of the Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The largest open pit mine in North America, Bingham has supplied more than 6 billion tons of rock yielding copper, gold, silver and molybdenum and not surprisingly, a tremendous amount of pollution... read more
Utah, Moab - Potash Mining
State: Utah
Region: West of Moab, Utah
Description: The Moab or Cane Creek potash mine is located 20 miles west of Moab. The mine produces between 700 and 1,000 tons of potash per day. Potash, potassium compounds which occur naturally in areas where ancient oceans once ebbed and flowed, is mainly used for agricultural fertilizer... read more