The Albany County Supreme Court of Justice, New York,
US, has stopped NYCO Minerals from starting its test mining for
wollastoite in the 200-acre (0.4km2) area, also
known as Lot 8 (near the town of Lewis, New York).
NYCO had received approval from the
Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC) for a land swap and temporary
revocable permits (TRP). This was to conduct exploration of
wollastonite resources in Lot 8 and was expected to begin in
Hon. Thomas Buchanan from the
Supreme Court, issued the temporary restraining order following
a lawsuit, known as Article 78, filed by New York-based law
firm Earthjustice, which acts on behalf of four
local environmental groups -
Adirondack Wild, Atlantic States Legal Foundation, Protect the
Adirondacks and Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.
Earthjustice disputes that the
approval of the land swap by New York state - known as
proposition 5 - suspends only one layer of protection for Lot
8, but other legal requirements protective of wilderness areas
remain in full force.
The narrow passage of
proposition 5 may have removed the forever wild
protection from the Lot 8 in the Jay Mountain Wilderness area.
However, there remain many other requirements in law that have
not been amended and are fully in effect, Samuel Sage,
president of Atlantic States Legal Foundation said in a
A majority of New Yorkers and
two successive, separately elected Legislatures amended the
Constitution to authorise the NYCO project [in November
2013], Lori Severino, DECs spokerperson, told
DEC is implementing that
constitutional amendment in a manner that isÊconsistent
with sound environmental policies and practices, she
John Brodt, NYCOs
spokesperson, told IM that the swap earned the
support of a broad array of environmental groups, including the
Adirondack Mountain Club and Adirondack Council, labour unions,
local governments and business organisations.
According to Deborah Goldberg, lead
attorney for Earthjustice, by granting a TRP to NYCO, the APA
and DEC considers that the amendment implicitly
repealed all the laws and regulations affecting Lot
Legal and environmental dispute
Our lawsuit is not trying to
change the result of the proposition 5 vote. We respect the
fact that proposition 5 passed, Dan Plumley, partner at
Adirondack Wild, told the news provider Press
But [É] the state is
bulldozing forward literally to implement this action without a
full environmental impact statement, without recognition of
rare and protected species on Lot 8, [and] without detailed
inventory analysis that would be expected of any private entity
looking to conduct industrial activity in the park, he
Earthjustice raised strong
environmental concerns about NYCOs exploration plan in
the area, although DEC has determined that exploratory drilling
will have no significant adverse impacts in the area.
The agencies claim that
industrial drilling does not carry the potential adverse
environmental impact, even though it will take place in a
completely wild forest sheltering sensitive plants, including
two protected orchid species, Goldberg said.
David Gibson, conservation director
from the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter believes that road
building, tree cutting and drilling involved in mineral
exploration will cause great disturbance to Lot 8, as the area
is rich in older growth trees and varied wildlife habitats.
NYCO has responsibly mined
wollastonite on a privately-owned portion of the Adirondack
Park for more than 60 years and the mine has become an
important component of the local economy, Brodt told
The company strives to be a
good neighbour as well as an employer, he says. We take
the stewardship aspects seriously, Mark Buckley, NYCO
environmental and safety officer, said.
However, the environmentalist
groups believe that there is no reason for the state to rush to
judgement on Lot 8, as NYCOs other wollastonite asset at
Oak Hill, which will be ready for full-scale mining in 2016,
has an estimated mine life of 25 years.
The restraining order [by the
Supreme Court] will prohibit NYCO from implementing the TRP and
doing sampling until at least 22 August. Thats when we go
back to court, Plumley said.
NYCOs plans in
According to the terms of the TRP,
mineral sampling by NYCO will require the destruction of 1,254
trees, the construction of corridors in the forest for
transportation and the installation of up to 21 drilling pads,
which will operate for up to eight months.
The company will carry out
exploration in a quarter of Lot 8 and, if results from
exploration demonstrate the feasibility of mining wollastonite,
NYCO will proceed with the land swap.
Upon completion of the mining
activities, NYCO would reclaim Lot 8, replant it and donate it
back to the State of New York.
NYCO has also filed an additional
application to the APA, for adding one hour of operation per
day and truck traffic from its Seventy Road and Oak Hill mines
to its processing plant and Graymonts crushing plant in
Willsboro, New York.
Lindsey Stevens from US-based
geologic consulting company, H2H Associates, which is assisting
NYCO with its expansion plan, told North County Public
Radio that operations will re-route more than 1,000 feet
(305 metres) of one of the tributaries in the region.
The Seventy Road mine hosts 600,000 tonnes wollastonite
reserves, which would guarantee the wollastonite producer two
additional years of mining, with added excavation zones
extending operations by three years.