New Mexico Wild
Around 150 local residents attended a meeting hosted by the Santa Fe National Forest yesterday wearing red clothing to show solidarity in opposition to a proposed exploratory drilling operation near the community of Tererro, just south of the Pecos Wilderness Area and to the west of the Pecos River. Guests in attendance asked forest managers questions about the proposed project and raised concerns about how the drilling operation could impact outdoor recreation, public health and safety, wildlife, clean water, acequias, tribal resources, agriculture, traffic, the local economy, and more.
“New World Cobalts's proposal would forever alter the character of the canyon. 4700 acres and 5 millions tons of ore is a substantial amount of dirt. Tourism and small family based agriculture are both sustainable and have coexsisted for the past century here in the valley. A mine of this size threatens both of these and thus it threatens our livelihood the core of our existence.”
“Since the beginning of time indigenous peoples and communities have interacted with the landscapes from whence they came. The phrase ‘mother earth’ as a cultural, traditional and historic reference, this will ring true into time immemorial. The negative impacts and potential damages from the proposed Terrero mine are of significant concern to indigenous communities and peoples alike. This proposed mine will certainly affect the land, water and cultural landscapes in an adverse manner. Tribes and Pueblos are engaged in their sovereign government to government interactions with the various federal departments and agencies expressing their concerns. Indigenous peoples are also concerned. Our cultural resources, water and lands are not for sale or exploitation. Stop the Terrero mine.”
“We don't see water as a commodity, water is life and a natural resource, sacred and essential to our acequia communities in New Mexico. Our watershed and community have felt the negative consequences of mining before and don't intend to let it happen again. Our families have relied on a healthy watershed for survival for hundreds of years and Comexico’s proposal puts all of this at risk. We intend to fight for clean and safe water for all so that future generations may continue our traditions and culture for hundreds of years to come.”
In June 2019, it was reported that Comexico, LLC, the Colorado subsidiary of Australian corporation New World Cobalt, had submitted an application to drill up to 30 holes - each between 500 and 4,000-feet deep - on Jones Hill, just to the west of the Pecos River.
Comexico says the 30 exploratory holes would help determine whether the site is adequate for a full-blown gold, silver, copper, lead, or zinc mine. According to the scoping letter on the project issued by the Santa Fe National Forest, “The purpose of the exploration is to determine the location, concentration, quality and type of deposits in the area, and to help establish the feasibility of possible future mining operations.”
The region is still recovering from the runoff of a previous mining operation that left over 90,000 trout dead, severely impacting the area’s outdoor recreation economy for decades. The cleanup of this runoff cost taxpayers $28 million.
Comexico’s proposed operation was met with immediate opposition from local residents. Community members and business owners, acequia and land grant owners, tribes, elected officials, sportsmen and women, and nonprofit organizations have since formed the Stop Tererro Mine coalition to oppose the project.
The Santa Fe National Forest is accepting official written public comments on Comexico’s proposal until January 17, 2020. Comments may be submitted here.
“The site targeted by New World Cobalt is inappropriate for any kind of drilling operation. Such invasive activities here – even in an exploratory phase – would threaten the public health of nearby communities, the habitats that support vulnerable wildlife species, sensitive watersheds, and the rich cultures that have persisted in the region for centuries. We will continue standing in solidarity with concerned local residents and do all we can to help them stop this train in its tracks.”
Mark Allison, Executive Director, New Mexico Wild
“The Forest Service needs to look very carefully at how the proposed exploration activities will affect the Upper Pecos watershed. The Upper Pecos is a special place, where countless New Mexicans enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, backpacking, birding, hunting, and other forms of recreation. Those activities do not mix well with mining.”
Charles de Saillan, Staff Attorney, New Mexico Environmental Law Center
“We support local communities in opposing the proposed mine by Comexico. Farmers and ranchers who grow crops, pasture, and livestock would be devastated if toxins from mining contaminated the Pecos River. The USFS should consider that exploratory mining impacts the watershed and should use the utmost caution in reviewing Comexico’s plans.”
Paula Garcia, Executive Director, New Mexico Acequia Commission
“The economic vitality of the Pecos area is fragile and depends on tourist dollars to survive. Local businesses can not withstand the certain economic devastation to our area due to damage to the river and the overall environment. We are currently a World Class Fishing destination and Pecos businesses thrive on that demographic of enthusiast boosting our local economy. It has taken years to rebuild our recreational tourism economy since the last mining disaster. Visitors simply will not come back when greeted by mining truck traffic, a contaminated river, and an unhealthy environment. The Pecos Business Association stands with Stop Tererro Mine Coalition in absolutely opposing this exploratory mining proposal.”
Shelley Oram, Chair, Pecos Business Association
“It’s evident from meetings like this that local communities feel this mine is being pushed on them against their wishes. It’s just one more example of the need for reforms at the federal level. Decisions are being influenced by a mining act written almost 150 years ago, which ignores the concerns of local residents, ties the hands of the Forest Service, and puts special places like the upper Pecos watershed at risk.”
Dan Roper, New Mexico Public Lands Coordinator, Trout Unlimited
"We share the concerns of local citizens in Pecos who are concerned about the opposition to Comexico’s proposal. The Pecos is New Mexico’s backyard and the location of critical headwaters and the entire state should be on alert for any contamination or damage. Our concern comes from experience. We urge the Forest Service to hear us and implement strong safeguards for air, land and water in the proposal."
Jordan Smith, Executive Director, Climate Advocates/Voces Unidas (CAVU)