The Conglomerate Mesa Project
The Bureau of Land Management is considering a proposal from Timberline Resources Company to explore for low-grade gold ore as part of its plan to put a massive gold mine on Conglomerate Mesa, just east of Owens Lake in the scenic Inyo Mountains. Conglomerate Mesa was formerly included in the Cerro Gordo Wilderness Study Area, is adjacent to the Malpais Mesa Wilderness, and may still be considered for future wilderness designation
The proposed open-pit mine would use a poisonous cyanide-leaching process and would span up to 10 square miles of fragile desert. The mine would produce less than half an ounce of gold from each ton of rock -- literally. Worse yet, the mine site is less than five miles from the western border of Death Valley National Park and would be visible from the park, access roads, and nearby wilderness areas.
In addition to permanently destroying wilderness values and marring the desert landscape, this massive proposal would damage scarce desert water resources, increase dust and air pollution, destroy fragile desert soils, and destroy habitats for rare plant and wildlife species including the Mojave ground squirrel. The cyanide waste ponds would also create a deadly trap for migratory birds using the inland Pacific flyway.
The low-grade gold ore at Conglomerate Mesa is only be considered for mining because the price of gold is rising and the federal government continues to allow mining projects such as this one to destroy vast areas of our public lands virtually for free.
The Bureau of Land Management produced an inadequate Environmental Assessment for the exploratory drilling. It fails to address any of the environmental impacts that will result from a gold mine in this area and also fails to adequately address the impacts of the exploration.