Conglomerate Mesa in Limbo
For the last twenty-five years, I’ve lived in Lone Pine co-owning the De La Cour Ranch with my life partner, Julie. We guide horseback rides on the ranch, grow lavender, rent cabins, among other things. Like all who live here, we cherish the invaluable landscapes the surround us. We value the land for what it does for our body, mind, and spirit, as we exercise our right to roam free. But the same land that drives us to live here and attracts recreators from around the globe also draws the eyes of powerful international corporations and their energy development projects. Some of these projects are good. Some are average. And some are downright hair-brained. And let’s be real–projects of all levels of legitimacy and integrity have come to fruition on public land in Inyo County. We the people live with the roses and thorns of these proposals and their development, operation, and cleanup. And now, Inyo County is being put through another round of tension and turmoil as we once again entertain a hair-brained project proposal: gold mining at Conglomerate Mesa. This one is a lot more thorn than it is rose.
Let’s get one thing clear: An open-pit cyanide heap leach gold mine will never happen at Conglomerate Mesa. Industrial mining of any kind will never happen at Conglomerate Mesa. Seriously, where are you going to get the billions of gallons of water per operating year need for an open-pit mine? LADWP? Good luck! For their exploration project, K2 Gold had to return a few hundred gallons of water unrightfully accessed from the Lone Pine Golf Course. If logistical challenges like water access aren’t enough of a hurdle, the local opposition will be. Proponents of this project like to say, “K2 Gold is only exploration, not open pit mining.” To which I say, why bother with damaging exploration and new road construction if the actual mine will never happen? We must realize how easily K2 Gold can sell the mineral rights to a company that does develop open-pit mines. Proponents of this project also say, “K2 Gold is spending money in the community.” To which I say, why sell off public lands to international mining giants that only damage our lands and keep profits to themselves? Why not invest in healthy public lands, which is the main reason people spend their dollars in Inyo County?
K2 Gold and Mojave Precious Metals–the community is looking at you now. We understand you’ve completed the permitted helicopter drilling. We understand that you’re currently evaluating drill samples. We understand that you have grandiose plans drilling plans for Conglomerate Mesa that you’ve pitched to your investors. Plans that you are preparing to submit to the Ridgecrest BLM. At this time, you have a choice to make. Will you listen to the community’s majority opposition and drop the exploration project? Personally, I hope over the next month you realize that Conglomerate Mesa is worth more than gold and that drilling here is not worth the blatant disregard of the local’s opposition. Respectfully, I hope you take your exploration project elsewhere – a place where it is wanted. I also hope that in your time here you’ve come to learn why people truly love the California Desert and Eastern Sierra–for the wild protected spaces. I hope the next time you visit, it’s for recreation and you spend your dollars enjoying the land, not exploiting it. Shoot, I’ll gladly take you on a horseback ride at the De La Cour Ranch. But time will tell. It’s your move, K2 Gold. The community is watching. Conglomerate Mesa wants to recover. Do the right thing and drop this project.