BLM issues major setback for limestone mine

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Jan. 25, 2024, informed the Citizens’ Alliance that a new report has rejected Rocky Mountain Industrials’ claim that its limestone mine expansion must be allowed under the Mining Law of 1872.

In a telephone call to the Citizens’ Alliance, BLM Field Manager Larry Sandoval said its long-awaited report, known as a Determination of Common Variety (DCV), is complete. It’s been in the works since 2019.

Sandoval summarized the report’s findings, stating, “BLM has determined that a majority of the material is not disposable under the Mining Law of 1872 because of being marketed for common purposes.”

Because RMI has proposed mining, and is currently selling, much of the limestone for uses such as aggregate, road base, structural boulders and other common purposes, it won’t qualify for the special protections for mining allowed under the 152-year-old federal Mining Law.

If the RMI operations had qualified under the 1872 Mining Law, the company would have had few regulatory limits on environmental and economic impacts, and would have no obligation to pay royalties on its sales.

Sandoval said BLM informed RMI about the DCV’s conclusions in a letter sent Jan. 25, 2024.

“This news is an important milestone in our efforts to protect our water, hot springs, scenic landscape, and resort economy from RMI’s mining plan,” said Jeff Peterson, president of the Alliance.

“RMI’s plans to expand its existing quarry from the present 15 acres to 447 acres, with a year-round mining operation running for 20 years or more, would be devastating for our community, our economy and the environment,” Peterson said.

“The battle against the mine expansion is not over, but this determination is a big setback for RMI, and a tremendous step forward for the Citizens’ Alliance and Glenwood Springs,” Peterson said. “We will remain strong in our work, standing arm-in-arm with the community to oppose the mine expansion.”

BLM has not released the DCV report, but Sandoval and other BLM officials have informed the City of Glenwood Springs, Garfield County and congressional representatives about the results.

The announcement about completion of the DCV report leaves many unanswered questions, including:

  • Will RMI challenge BLM’s new findings?
  • Will RMI now be obligated to pay for the limestone it has extracted from the quarry since purchasing it in 2016?
  • How will the results of the DCV affect BLM’s ongoing enforcement action against RMI over its failure to comply with current federal mining standards?
  • How will the efforts of state and federal agencies to deal with slope stability in response to the January 2023 rockslide be affected?

Related news reports

City of Glenwood Springs media release, Jan. 26, 2024

“We are heartened to learn that BLM has made a determination that appears to be in line with our residents’ desires to protect surrounding landscapes, water quality, and hot springs from the proposed massive mine expansion and ensuing heavy industrial impacts on the city.”
— Glenwood Springs Mayor Ingrid Wussow

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