Colorado justices overturn ban on chemical mining

Chris Rizo Jan. 13, 2009, 1:50am

DENVER (Legal Newsline)- A county-wide ban on heap leach cyanide mining has been overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court.

The ban imposed by Summit County commissioners in 2004 was overturned by the state's high court Monday.

The justices ruled that local governments cannot impose reclamation standards or ban the use of mining chemicals that are regulated by state and federal laws.

The court ruled that the state has a "dominant interest" in the
regulation of mining activities.

Heap leach mining uses cyanide to separate gold from other ores. Proponents of the ban argued that the regulation helped prevent water supplies from being contaminated by chemical leakages from mines.

The Colorado Mining Association challenged the Summit County law. The Summit County District Court sided with the group, but a state appeals court reinstated the chemical mining ban in 2007. The CMA appealed to the state Supreme Court.

"The mining industry is gratified that Colorado's highest Court has upheld uniform state standards for the protection of the environment over an ill conceived prohibition," said CMA President Stuart Sanderson in a statement issued by its lawyers.

"The prohibition would have discouraged mining and weakened environmental protections," Sanderson added.

The Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry filed a brief in support of CMA's petition to the high court. The CMA was represented by the Denver law firm of Moye White LLP.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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