APR 30, 2019 11:38 AM PDT

Court decision blocks mining in Yellowstone

Lucky Minerals Inc. wasn’t so lucky this time. The ruling came from a district court in Montana two weeks ago, revoking the Canadian mining company’s permit for exploratory drilling. The drilling was to have commenced on July 15, 2019, in efforts to look for gold in Emigrant Gulch, which sits to the north of Yellowstone National Park.

Emigrant Gulch, Montana. Photo: Bozeman Daily Chronicle

But let’s back up. To understand the whole picture, you first have to know that Lucky Minerals did get lucky the first time around when the Montana Department of Environmental Quality illegally approved its drilling plan despite the fact that it didn’t consider threats to water quality and wildlife. Because of this, the company was able to conduct exploratory drilling for a time. But then, with a lot of community unification, the power shifted.

The communities surround Yellowstone banded together to block any advancement on the company’s agenda. “Lucky Minerals should have learned by now that our community will not rest until our irreplaceable wild places are safe from industrial gold mining,” said Park County Environmental Council Executive Director Michelle Uberuaga. “We will win because local residents, businesses, and elected officials are united to protect our natural resources and local economy against this threat.”

Earthjustice represented Park County Environmental Council and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in a lawsuit against the company. “This ruling ensures that Lucky Minerals can’t harm clean water and native wildlife at the gateway into Yellowstone National Park under cover of a license that was never legally issued in the first place,” said Jenny Harbine, Earthjustice attorney. “Lucky Minerals should have read the writing on the wall a long time ago.”

In fact, this isn’t the first time that people have put up a fight to protect the national park and surrounding areas. In October of 2018, previous Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, signed a 20-year mineral withdrawal, resulting in the protection of 30,000 acres north of Yellowstone from new mining claims. President Trump made these protections permanent on March 12, 2019.

“The court’s ruling is a critical piece in protecting Yellowstone’s Gateway from the menace of gold mining,” said Greater Yellowstone Coalition Executive Director Caroline Byrd. “The Trump administration, the Obama administration, Congress, the Forest Service, the Park County Commission, thousands of citizens and more than 420 Montana businesses all agree, Yellowstone is more valuable than gold.”

Sources: EarthJustice, National Parks Conservation Association

About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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