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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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October 23, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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October 23, 1997
 

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Pahrump Valley Gazette, Thursday, October 23, California couple fighting for right to mine 1997 15 by Andy Holtmann PVG Staff Ed and Carol Baumunk haven't operated their talc mine in Death Valley since the late 1970s. Now that the Baumunks and new partner, Archie Jack- son want to reopen the mine, they are faced with losing it forever. When the California Desert Protection Act was put into effect in January 1995, the boundaries of the Death ..,, Valley National Park ex- ".! ...... :% panded. What the Baumunks " ' " were not prepared for was y that the expansion included their mine. "We were all of a sudden grouped in a wilderness area," Ed Baumunk said. "This has always been a mining area and should have remained that way." According to Baumunk, the National Park Service (NPS) told him that he would not be allowed to operate the mine as it would be a threat to the newly protected environment. Baumunk said he received a fax from the NPS citing that if the mine were reopened, the chances of endangering wildlife and pollution of the Amargosa River would increase dramatically. The Baumunks and Jackson contacted the NPS several times and according to Baumunk, received the "red tape welcome." So they took their case to the people, citing reasons that the mine should be allowed to open and asked for local support. "What we wanted to stress is that it is good for the economy here," Baumunk said. "It's not something that is just happen- ing with us. Mines all over are being forced out of existence." Baumunk said that many of the mines that are being closed or restricted are the sole revenue for certain small towns. The products that are produced as a result of mining are also in danger as more and more mines go under. Baumunk said that he has heard government talk of oversees trading, yet he said more and more foreign- ers are coming to America's mines for support. "If (NPS) gets what they want, then our country is dead economically," Baumunk said. The Baumunks said they were upset at the NPS re- sponses to the support they received and that Superinten- dent Richard Martin was ig noting the Baumunk's ques- tions and concerns. They have gone to Washington D.C. three times with their issue and are currently seeling help from the state of California as well. "Martin said very bluntly that we would never mine in the park," Baumunk said. "Trying to convince him of the need for this mine was next to impossible. He thinks he is God and can do what- ever he wants to." The NPS though, tells a different story. They state that they are in favor Gf mining and the only problem they foresee is protecting the area around them. Although Mar- tin could not be reached for Notices were placed on this authorized vehicle sign restricting miners from entering mines in the area. i Ed Baumunk stands by the entrance of his talc mine which hasn't been operating since the late 1970s. comment, Mel Essington, park mining engineer for the NPS, said that the Baumunks and Jackson axe on track to be approved for mining in the park. "We had to follow through with a claim validity exam to determine if there was a suf- ficient amount of wealth to be mined," he said. "It was con- cluded earlier this year that was indeed an economically viable property. Right now we are processing plans and it looks like the Baumunks will be able to proceed." Essington said that another reason for delay was the completion of the environ- mental assessment for the area in question. That study is currently out for public re- view and Essington said as soon as all of the public com- ment is accounted for, the de- cision would be handed down. The Baumunks have held their mining claim since 1952. Their mine operated until the late 1970s when an asbestos scare hit. Essington said tremolite, which was used as natural asbestos, was listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as a carcinogen and harraful to humans. The Baumunks said that at the time, Death Valley decided they didn't want the mines and gave them five years to continue operation and shut down. The Baumunks decided to shut down at that time instead of switching to open pit status as many olhers did and destroying the existing environment. Essington said that it was higher operating costs rather than restrictions that forced mines out of business. He said that the option to remain open had always existed. Anywhere between 50-80 tons of talc could be produced per day at the Baumunk's mine. Ed said that he currently has interests and vouchers that reach as high as 800 tons per day. He said his talc has been used in paper mills in Georgia and Texas. the Coors Brewing Company in Colorado, and in Call us at 1.800.449-1269 "$99 offer reflects a $50 ebate. Regula ,nstallabon pcce rs $149 "Free month o programming ts the Pnmentertarwnent package Offer is for a krrated te. sul3/ecl to credd apoval, and cannot be combmea wh any oth offer. Progcammlng and equ,pman! fen packages ixxchased separately Pines subct to change. Local sates tax may appty. Offer vabd h'om August 28 to Octot 31, 1997 to residenbal customers only. O 1997 PRIMESTAR By TSAT various ceramic manufacturers around the nation. While he said the cost of starting up again would be very expensive and they don't have all of the equipment they need yet, letting the mine go to waste wouldn't be right. "What we need is a good common sense approach," Baumunk said. "We have a mine that is valuable and would help the schools, the economy, and the surrounding region. Isn't that worth a chance?" 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