Karl Konecny

Konecny

I would like to thank The News-Review for running the recent Feb. 21 article, “Polluted water pours daily from mine sites,” which mentioned our own Formosa Mine near Riddle.

A new mining threat exists in our watersheds — Mawson, a foreign company, has proposed the Huckleberry Gold Mine in the headwaters of Rock Creek. They are actively seeking investors and have received permits from Oregon and the BLM for exploratory drilling, which they commenced last fall.

We only need to look at the history of the Formosa Mine to understand the threats of the proposed Huckleberry Mine. The majority of mining activity there took place in the 1990s under the ownership of a foreign company, Formosa Exploration Inc. Each day, four hundred tons of ore were extracted until the mine played out in 1994. Formosa conveniently declared bankruptcy and vanished across the international border, leaving an environmental mess behind. Over 10,000 gallons of toxic waste discharge daily into Middle Creek, creating an 18 mile dead zone in what was once habitat for Coho salmon and Steelhead trout. The poisoned water then flows into Cow Creek, upstream of Riddle’s drinking water source.

Today, the Formosa mine is a federal Superfund site. Millions of tax dollars have been spent trying to mitigate the problem; millions more are needed to succeed and restore Middle Creek. The mine discharge is so toxic, skin contact must be avoided.

The similarities are striking. The Huckleberry Mine would be a hard rock mine with sulfide ores, which are strongly implicated in acid mine drainage. Mawson is a foreign company without assets capable of resolving any environmental problems. Rock Creek is critical habitat for Coho salmon and Steelhead trout. The state and BLM have already spent millions enhancing stream habitat. Rock Creek is also the site of ODFW’s salmon and steelhead hatchery. Rock Creek flows into the North Umpqua just above Glide. Many residents take their drinking water directly from the river. All could be lost with a mining disaster up Rock Creek.

Karl Konecny lives in Glide and is a board member of The Steamboaters and The North Umpqua Foundation, both dedicated to protecting the Umpqua watershed.

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