Current Status of Red Lady

Please check this page regularly for the latest news updates and information regarding Red Lady.

Photo: Lydia Stern

Red Lady Updates

March 2017 Update--Continuing Discussions

Discussions have continued to unfold regarding the withdrawal of unpatented mining and millsite claims.  In March 2017, HCCA was officially invited to the table with the MOU signatories and other essential stakeholders to discuss this objective.  As was mentioned at the joint Town Council and Gunnison County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, we may have to go slow to go fast.  One of the issues that has come up in these discussions is the question of privatizing several hundred acres where the tailings dams, waste rock piles, treatment ponds, and the water treatment plant are located.  The County Attorney’s astute analysis at this meeting sums it up nicely: “The issue now is that Freeport would feel better to privatize so as not to have the federal leash on them.  But we say we are more comfortable with that federal leash on them.”

March 2017 Update--Tailing Geotechnical Investigation Work Plan for the Keystone Mine

Shortly after the New Year, the new owner, Mt. Emmons Mining Company (MEMC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan, submitted a Notice of Intent to the Forest Service for a Tailings Geotechnical Investigation Work Plan for the Keystone Mine.  This approved proposal permits MEMC to collect necessary data from lands disturbed by the Keystone mine and associated workings.  These lands and workings are located on Forest Service managed land.  The “intention [of the Work Plan] is to confirm that the closure of the Site meets current closure requirements and regulations . . . [as well as] evaluate the stability of the tailings dams.” (Mt. Emmons Mining Company Work Plan, p.1).  As of this week, MEMC wrapped up installing the Cone Penetrometer Testing, which is a “means of determining tailings density and pore pressure within the tailings.” (Mt. Emmons Mining Company Work Plan, p.6).  The remaining activities identified in the Work Plan are expected to continue to be implemented during the summer work season after the snow has melted out fully.

The Work Plan’s data collection results are important for identifying the current state of the tailings dams and for informing what additional reclamation activities may be necessary and/or could be taken to further reduce metal loading.  HCCA supports the efforts to gather this information and commends MEMC/Freeport for its initiative.

Congratulations to Lydia Stern, Red Lady #40!

Lydia Stern is not only a talented photographer and graphic designer, but she is also a fun-loving, adventure-seeking and passionate environmental advocate. We are beyond excited to see her fill the role of Red Lady #40 while also continuing to work on a new and exciting outreach project for HCCA called Backcountry Advocates (see pg. 7). Many thanks to Suzanne Pierson for being an amazing Red Lady #39—Lydia has some big shoes to fill!

40th Anniversary Red Lady Salvation Ball--Double Header, Double Reader!

In honor of the 40th Ball, we decided to hold a double-header two-night event to paint the town red. On March 9, 2017, the Red Lady Ramblers featuring Tyler Lucas, Lizzy Plotkin, Kevin Donovan and Ryan Herr rocked the house, and along with a photo booth, red cocktail specials, and raffle, Red Lady #40, Lydia Stern, was crowned. On March 10, 2017, the one and only String Cheese Incident took center stage. SCI has deep roots in the Crested Butte community, as they began their journey playing at the Center for the Arts and on the slopes of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. SCI also played at our 25th Red Lady Ball in 2002, which has become a legendary concert for HCCA and the community. We are so honored that SCI went back to their roots to play again at the 40th Anniversary Red Lady Salvation Ball. This year’s ball(s) were definitely a celebration to remember, thank you to everyone in the community who came out to make this special double-header—double redder!

Ballot Issue 2A Passes Helping Pave the Way for Congressional Withdrawal

On November 8, 2016, Crested Butte voters approved Ballot Issue 2A by nearly 9 to 1 and helped pave the way for a community and company supported congressional withdrawal of lands on Mt. Emmons and in nearby watersheds where mining and millsite claims are located.

Ballot Measure to Help End the Threat of Mining Red Lady Initiated

On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, HCCA spoke in support of and the Crested Butte Town Council considered and approved unanimously Resolution 27, Series 2016. The Resolution was placed on the ballot as Ballot Issue 2A and would authorize the Town to utilize $2.1 million from the Town’s Land Transfer Excise Tax Fund to pay the MEMC/Freeport to permanently dispose of its mining and millsite claims on Mt. Emmons and the nearby watersheds. The funds would be transferred to MEMC/Freeport only after withdrawal is passed by Congress, signed by the President, and MEMC/Freeport has abandoned its unpatented mining and millsite claims.

WTP PoP and Reclamation Bond Calculations Provided to the Forest Service

On August 18, 2016, MEMC/Freeport submits Water Treatment Plant Plan of Operations and Reclamation Bond Calculations to the Forest Service.

Freeport/MEMC Terminates All proposed Mine Plans On Mt. Emmons
(Freeport/MEMC Also Announces Intention to Submit Plan for Water Treatment Plant and a Reclamation Bond for the Plant). 2016 is continuing to be an unprecedented year in the 39-year effort to permanently protect Red Lady (also known as Mt. Emmons) and our watershed from an industrial-scale molybdenum mine. This week, continued progress toward this goal occurred with a letter dated May 9, 2016 (obtained by HCCA on May 13) from Freeport/MEMC to the Forest Service, terminating all pending Plans of Operations (PoOs) with the Forest Service for and related to a proposed molybdenum mine on Red Lady.

 

Ending the Threat of Mining Red Lady Once and For All
Together, we’ve defended Red Lady from multiple mine proposals and companies, keeping her molybdenum mine-free.  And now, we have the opportunity to end the threat of mining Red Lady once and for all, together. With your support, we will continue our role as Red Lady’s guardian, roll up our sleeves, dive into the details, and work with all those involved to secure a long-term, sustainable, and protective solution for our watershed and Red Lady.

 

Congratulations to RED LADY 39, Suzanne Pierson
We thank everyone who came out to celebrate the 39th Annual Red Lady Salvation Ball on March 12th.This year’s ball was definitely one for the record books; we’re closer than ever to a permanent protective solution for Mt. Emmons and we’re thrilled that so many members of our community came out to celebrate and support our efforts to keep Red Lady mine-free.

 

Town and County Approve Memorandum of Understanding
HCCA is pleased to share that on Friday, February 26, 2016 and Tuesday, March 1, 2016 the Crested Butte Town Council and the Gunnison County Commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the: (1) operation of the Water Treatment Plant that treats contaminated mine water from the old Keystone Mine prior to discharging into Coal Creek above Crested Butte; and, (2) states that Freeport/Mt. Emmons Mining Co. intends to dispose of the private lands and ore body, as well as the mining claims on federal land. HCCA attended both meetings requesting the Town and County to approve the MOU and to commend the Town and County for their efforts that led to the development of the MOU.

 

Take Action: Support Town’s Approval of the Memorandum of Understanding
Friday, February 26, 2016 at 6 p.m. in Jerry’s Gym (507 Maroon Avenue) the Crested Butte Town Council will hold a Special Town Council meeting with public discussion and possible approval of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the: (1) operation of the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) that treats contaminated mine water from the old Keystone Mine prior to discharging into Coal Creek above Crested Butte; and, (2) states that Freeport/Mt Emmons Mining Co. intends to dispose of the private lands and ore body, as well as the mining claims on federal land.

 

High Country Conservation Advocates is pleased to share an important update regarding new developments in our 39-year long effort to Save Red Lady
On Tuesday, February 16, 2016, State agencies, the Town of Crested Butte, and Gunnison County released a proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the operation of the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) that treats contaminated mine water from the old Keystone Mine prior to discharging into Coal Creek above Crested Butte. In the MOU, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the Town of Crested Butte, and Gunnison County, along with mining company Freeport-McMoRan, outlined a series of actions that will help ensure the protection of Coal Creek, as well as continue the process of finding a permanent solution that would result in a mine-free Red Lady.

 

As long urged by HCCA, State and Federal officials are seriously looking at a long-term solution
that would permanently protect Mt. Emmons from mining and ensure financial viability for the operation of the Water Treatment Plant (WTP). The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Town of Crested Butte, Gunnison County, and federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service, have been meeting to discuss the WTP and a long-term protection of Mt. Emmons in light of U.S. Energy’s declining financial situation.

 

HCCA Sues the Forest Service
for Failing to Have an Approved Plan of Operations, Financial Assurance Bond, and Public Review for Facility Treating Acid Mine Drainage into Coal Creek Above the Town of Crested Butte.

 

HCCA launches 2015 Red Lady Fundraising Campaign
with goal of $50,000 to ramp up efforts

 

For years, HCCA and the community, including Town and County governments, have raised concern
over the lack of bonding or assurance for the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) that U.S. Energy Corp. (USE), owns and operates on Forest Service land to treat toxic acid mine drainage before it enters Coal Creek, just a few miles upstream from Crested Butte. This concern has received renewed attention as we’ve watched USE’s financial situation deteriorate since last November.

 

Red Lady News

Summer 2017 Red Lady Progress + Water Quality Update

Featured Photo: Lydia Stern Red Lady Progress Update Now well into 40 years of protecting Mt. Emmons (known locally as “Red Lady”), we are continuing toward a permanent protective solution for this mountain while also working to reduce heavy metals loading in a...
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March 2017 Red Lady Update

Throughout the beginning months of 2017, progress has continued toward the objectives outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Town of Crested Butte, Gunnison County, state agencies, and the new owner of the mining and millsite claims on Mt. Emmons...
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Thank you for coming out to the Red Lady Ball(s)!

On behalf of the HCCA board and staff, THANK YOU! Photo: Jeremy Wallace High Country Conservation Advocates would like to thank everyone who came out to the Double-Header 40th Anniversary Red Lady Salvation Ball last week. This year’s two-night affair was...
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