Mining Monitor, Killer Cars, Cattle Correction
The rush to secure rights to mine so-called green metals--i.e. they are used in electric vehicles and renewable energy technologies--continues at a rapid pace in a lot of the old mining grounds of the West. And when I say rapid, I mean like over 1,000 mining claims made during the last month in the Four Corners states alone. No, I'm not going to try to track all of them, just ones that jump out at me, with a priority on those in the Four Corners Country/Colorado Plateau, such as ...
Vancouver-based Alianza Minerals, via Tarsis Resources US and Big Rock Exploration LLC, has filed a notice of intent to do exploration drilling on what they call the Stateline Property that straddles the Colorado-Utah state line on the eastern edge of the Lisbon Valley. Yes, the Lisbon Valley, again. They are targeting copper on the unpatented claims on BLM land, which is just down the road from the Lisbon Valley Mining Company’s open pit copper mine. Interesting factoid: They anticipate using 2,000 to 10,000 gallons per 12-hour period to drill the wells.
Alianza is also planning on doing exploratory drilling at its Klondike claims, about 25 miles east of the Stateline Property in an area around an active gravel mine in San Miguel County. The target mineral is, once again, copper. Copper is used in just about everything, but because an electric vehicle can use several times more of it than an internal combustion one, demand and the price for the mineral have climbed, spurring on mining projects.
When you go down the mining-speculation wormhole, you might just come up with some surprises, such as this one: One of Alianza's projects is a gold mine in the western La Plata Mountains of southwestern Colorado. They call it the Twin Canyon Project, but is centered at the workings of the now defunct Charlene Mine, which last produced ore back in the 1980s and 1990s.
Finally, yet another La Plata Mountain prospect: In 2019 and 2022, Canadian company Metallic Minerals has acquired and staked more than 500 claims totaling nearly 11,000 acres along the La Plata and Montezuma County line to explore for copper, silver, gold, and other minerals. The property is on both sides of the ridge that separates the La Plata River drainage from the Mancos River drainage (on and around Madden and Star Peaks). The technical report for the exploration project was released earlier this year. There is no connection with the troubled Mayday-Idaho Mine nearby, which is currently in temporary cessation status.
As I've noted before, there's no reason to get too excited or worried about these projects, yet. It's a long road from staking a claim to embarking on exploration work to actual mining. All but one of the aforementioned projects are in the exploration phase and it's possible that none of them will ever progress beyond that. Only the Twin Canyon Project has an active mining permit, according to Colorado Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety stats, presumably meaning it could begin producing sooner.
Still, it's clear that the rush is on. For more on the lithium side of things, check out this map put together by Patrick Donnelly of the Center for Biological Diversity.
Reason to wage a War on Cars #345565
American drivers and their cars are killing people at a terrifyingly high rate, even as the rest of the world’s roadways get safer. Emily Badger and Alicia Parlapiano detail the grim statistics in a recent story for the New York Times, providing more evidence that the nation’s car-centric culture needs a serious overhaul. The West’s highways are some of the nation’s deadliest.
The Times story opens with the tragic account of a U.S. State Department worker who was run down and killed by a semi-truck driver in Washington, D.C., while riding her bike. She was one of three foreign service workers killed by motorists in the nation’s capital this year. That’s just one fewer than died in Benghazi in 2012. Nationwide nearly 43,000 people died in automobile-related accidents in 2021, up nearly 11% from the year before. So where are the congressional hearings and investigations into the national fetish for automobiles, especially the oversized, inefficient, compact-car-crushing SUVs and trucks so popular today?
Bigger, deadlier cars are one of the main causes. But they get high safety ratings, you say. Yes, they do, but that’s only because the rating system is defective. It considers only the safety of the folks inside the monster vehicle when it slams into a normal sized car (or motorcyclist, pedestrian, or bicyclist). The system doesn’t give a flying f&^! about the safety of everyone outside of the vehicle in question.
I was shocked recently when I drove a friend’s Toyota Tacoma, a “small” truck, and found that I couldn’t see the road—or obstacles, or people—in front of me over the hood. Not only is the design dangerous for whomever might be in the bike lane or crosswalk, but also makes four-wheeling on Utah backroads a bit more sketchy.
Another problem is that our infrastructure is designed around automobiles, with the assumption that everyone using it will be ensconced in their own metal and plastic cocoon on wheels. Protected bike and walking paths are rare, especially in the West. And just try walking somewhere in suburban Phoenix or L.A. or even Denver. It often entails crossing vast expanses of asphalt or trodding among speeding vehicles without the benefit of a sidewalk or playing a real-life version of Frogger in which you are the frog.
But at the root of all of that is something else, something more sinister and deadly: The American fetish for cars and a sort of entitlement inherent in it. This cultural defect prioritizes cars over people and presumes that whoever sits in the driver’s seat has more rights than any other kind of human being. The bigger and more powerful the vehicle, the more rights the driver and vehicle have. And that attitude drives policy, which in turn shapes the built environment.
If an urban planner proposes building a bike path, say, or widening the sidewalk in a town’s commercial district to better accommodate human beings, there is inevitably an outcry: But that might take away a few parking spaces! It’s not fair to my car! Similarly, consider the motorist who screams, cries, and worse when they come up behind a cyclist or a group of cyclists riding (perfectly legally and safely) in the driving lane. Why does the driver get so irritated? Because they may have to slow down a bit before passing. It’s so unfair! A grave injustice to the automobile! How dare you slow the king of the road! And that fallacy gives the asshole behind the wheel an excuse to maybe pass really close or swing back into the lane inches ahead of the cyclists. And hey, if the driver hits one one of the cyclists, maybe even kills them, it’s the cyclists’ own fault. They shouldn’t be riding on the roads because roads are made for cars. Right? (Wrong, actually.)
That may sound extreme, but it’s accurate. I used to be an avid road cyclist with a healthy respect for the deadly, four-wheeled weapons I was sharing the road with. Which is to say I almost always rode alone, and always stayed as close to the edge of the road as possible. It didn’t matter. I got yelled at, mirrored, nearly sucked under the wheels of some big truck that passed too close too many times to remember. Just because I wasn’t in a car. And I’ve watched normally kind, reasonable human beings turn into raging assholes who wished death on a pack of cyclists for taking up a lane of traffic, which, by the way, is the safest way to ride because it forces the motorists to acknowledge your existence and to wait until it’s safe to pass. I’ve seen this enough times to virtually abandon riding on the road.
It shouldn’t have to be like that. Motorists should realize that bike paths and better sidewalks and other methods of improving non-vehicular mobility actually benefit the motorists, because it entices folks to get out of their cars and ride or walk, thereby cutting down on traffic and pollution. But that’s a hard one for parking-fetishists to grasp. And a nation’s embedded culture is difficult to change, even if it kills tens of thousands of Americans each year.
Remember last Land Desk when I stated that there were just as many cattle grazing in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument as there were before it was a national monument? Turns out I was wrong.
I was basing my statement on the number of cattle permitted by the Bureau of Land Management to graze on the national monument, or authorized Animal Unit Months. That number has stayed mostly steady (dropping a bit, but then climbing back up to near-1996 levels). But attentive and helpful reader Jim Catlin (who, by the way, knows his stuff) pointed out that ranchers are putting fewer cattle on the land than they are authorized to do.
I’m going to be getting into all of this in a future post. But until then, a clarification: The number of authorized AUMs on the national monument has not decreased significantly since it was established. However, the number of actual cattle on the land has declined somewhat. But since the number of authorizations hasn’t dropped, we can safely conclude that the national monument designation was not the driver of the decrease in the number of cattle grazing. More soon.
Colorado Compact sans Context