A wide blue stream flows through green grassy fields with sagebrush on either side, and into the snowy gray mountains ahead.

Exploratory drilling at Hot Creek in Long Valley raises local outcry

A new, proposed mineral exploration project threatens the water, air quality, scenic and recreational resources, Native American cultural history, and the ecosystem of Long Valley, just south of Mono Lake. A Canadian company, Kore Mining, is proposing to construct 14 drilling pads, fencing, reopen roads, and clear topsoil adjacent to Hot Creek in Long Valley to extract core borings for mineral analysis. If sufficient gold is found, the company intends to expand to a “simple, high recovery heap leach gold mine.” The proposal has the potential to be so big that the impacts could project up and down the Eastern Sierra and into the Mono Basin.

The exploration project is within Bi-state Sage Grouse habitat and potentially threatens these migratory birds. Bi-state Sage Grouse are in decline in the region, and the Mono Basin is also home to these birds. Deer, migratory birds, and other wildlife, some which travel to and from the Mono Basin, pass through the project area.

The proposal is located on the Inyo National Forest, and the Inyo has extended public comment through Thursday, May 13 to determine the scope of analysis required for the project. The Inyo must decide if the exploration project is a categorical exclusion, requiring no environmental assessment, or if the project brings extraordinary circumstances that require the preparation of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

Local organizations and local government are raising numerous significant concerns about the proposal. For more information go to Friends of the Inyo and the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter.

Top photo courtesy of Jeff Sullivan.