Elko County Seeks Inquiry by Legislature
Into Alleged Lawbreaking by Bureaucrats

Elko Daily Free Press

Elko County Commissioners last week passed resolutions calling for a legislative review of the state's mitigation process and a moratorium on new mine bonding rules.
The request for a review by the Nevada Legislature was in response to the finding of the Elko County Grand Jury that state and federal officials broke the law in the mitigation involving Independence Mining Co.
But Commissioner Llee Chapman objected to the resolution. "Somebody has to have been wronged.
Chapman's concern about the presentment stems from comments by Bob Micsak, IMC attorney and vice president, that the mining company voluntarily paid $500,000 for mule deer habitat rehabilitation.
Commission Chairman Royce Hackworth disagreed, "I don't think Micsak had any choice but to make that comment.
Chapman said the money paid was just part of doing business and since the mining company did not complain, then the grand jury should not have investigated.
"Let us decide," said Chapman, who is administrative manager for Barrick Goldstrike. "We can run our business better than you can.
Public lands activist Ed Presley said Chapman could not say any different because Barrick is under the same kind of governmental pressure as any other mining company.
"I would take



strong issue with your statement that the end justifies the means, whether it breaks the law or not," Presley said. "You're trying to put a `good' hat on something that is very rotten.
Gene Gustin, a member of the county's Public Lands Use Advisory Commission, said the violation did not require someone to complain about the action.
"It was the public trust that was wronged," Gustin said.
Commissioner Roberta Skelton said the mitigation payment was a form of extortion.
"I think you guys are being blackmailed," Skelton said to Chapman.
Commissioner Tony Lesperance agreed with Skelton because of the potential for "deep-pockets" in the mining industry.
"They see an easy mark because they can hold up the permits and they can literally shake the industry down," Lesperance said.
Mike Nannini was the only commissioner undecided when it came time to vote on the resolution calling for legislative investigation into NDOW and its actions relating to IMC.
"If the cost of doing business is that they have to pay these mitigating things because they're trying to keep the mining industry


 
lucrative and keep all these people employed ...," Nannini asked, "this won't hurt our best industry?
"Vote how you see it, we can take care of ourselves," Chapman said.
The resolution passed 4-1 with Chapman voting against it.
Commissioners voted unanimously to pass a resolution aimed at the U.S.
Bureau of Land Management's recent posting on new mining reclamation bonding requirements.
The resolution asks for the Nevada Legislature and U.S.




Congress to place a moratorium on implementation of the bonding rules.
"This smacks of attacking the small mining operators," said Gustin, the resolution's author.
Gustin said the rule is a "bait and switch" maneuver by BLM. The BLM had a comment period on the rule in 1991 and is trying to pass the rule with substantial changes in 1997 without further public comment, Gustin said.


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