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Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, Nevada

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"Despite objections from environmentalists and the colony, the government cleared the way May 5 for a Chicago company to do an environmental study on plans to mine clay for a kitty litter processing plant north of Reno. Oil-Dri Corp. wants to strip mine clay on up to 5,700 acres of land in Hungry Valley owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Besides concerns of damaging the landscape, dust and increased truck traffic, opponents questioned whether the company's mining claims are what was intended by the 1872 Federal Mining Act. The BLM concluded that the plans do fall under the act and that Oil-Dri may proceed with its plans to conduct an environmental impact statement. The colony and Sierra Club's Toiyabe Chapter are among opponents of the plans. The company says Hungry Valley is loaded with a very fine uncommon clay that would make first-class kitty litter. Oil-Dri obtained its claims of 5,700 acres in Hungry Valley in 1997 and located another 415 acres of claims in the northern end of the county in 1991. Oil-Dri's project manager Bill Thompson said the company has searched the West for 15 years to find the right clay to make the company's Cat's Premium Pride Scoop 'N Flush and other kitty litter.