Mediation Next Step in Lincoln Mining Dispute
Wednesday, September, 23, 2015
The ongoing dispute between Lincoln area miners and the federal government’s US Forest Service is headed to mediation. According to Assistance US Attorney Victoria Francis, defendants George Kornec, Phil Nappo, and Intermountain Mining and Refining LLC recently submitted a new plan of operation for the White Hope Mine that supposedly corrects the issues at hand.
The original complaint against the company and miners accused them of noncompliance with Forest Service regulations, including an unauthorized garage, failing to remove explosives from the site, locking and posting gates, and a need to improve the road. They are also accused of making threats to the public attempting to access the mine for recreational purposes.
The government agreed to review the revision, but believes there are probably still going to be problems with public access and the garage. The miners believe the regulations are not applicable because the claims date back before 1955 regulations granting surface rights to the government. The Forest Service disagrees based on a decision by the Bureau of Land Management in the 1980s regarding a missed filing deadline that led to an abandoned claim on the mine.
The last two plans for the mine have been rejected by Forest Service and the mine has not operated for more than two years. The Oath Keepers group has agreed to participate in the mediation and support the miners. The complaint claims the miners broke the law and the answer to the complaint accuses the Forest Service of acting in bad faith in a bait and switch operation.