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MINERAL RESOURCES ALLIANCE STATEMENT ON ABANDONED MINES AND RECLAMATION

 WASHINGTON, July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Douglas C. Yearley, chairman, president and CEO of Phelps Dodge Corporation (NYSE: PD), today issued the following statement on behalf of the Mineral Resources Alliance:
 The mining industry and our employees and shareholders are committed to responsible environmental stewardship of the lands we mine. We recognize that miners are granted the right to use public land and therefore must ensure that we eventually return it to a safe and stable condition.
 As an industry, we have long recognized that the issue of abandoned mine lands is an important one and have been seeking an effective and workable solution to the problem for some time. But let's not confuse the issues here. There should be a very clear distinction between abandoned mines, which reflect the past mining environment and not that of modern mining, and the reclamation of currently operating mining sites.
 Some anti-mining advocates would have you believe that there is an abandoned mine crisis in this country and that hundreds of thousands of abandoned mine sites exist which pose dangerous health and environmental hazards. This is a widely exaggerated mischaracterization of the real situation.
 While the exact number of abandoned mines is unclear, the fact is that the impact of a large majority of these mines is benign, posing little or no threat to health, safety or the environment. And those sites that are identified as serious environmental problems are dealt with under existing laws such as Superfund or the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
 So while our critics choose to focus on spreading misinformation about abandoned mines, we believe it is more productive to concentrate on developing an effective and workable solution to this situation. That's why the hardrock mining industry supports legislation (S. 775) sponsored by Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), that provides a practical way to deal with abandoned mines.
 Craig's legislation would create a funding mechanism to assist states in reclaiming and restoring land and water resources adversely affected by past mining practices. The Craig bill also mandates that a comprehensive inventory of abandoned mine lands be undertaken in order to accurately determine the scope of the problem, information which can then be used to formulate the appropriate steps to address the problem. In addition, the bill would establish a state abandoned minerals and mineral materials mine reclamation program.
 On the issue of reclamation, the modern mining practices we use and the scores of existing state and federal laws and regulations govern every aspect of our operations. These regulations, many of which we have actively worked to develop, are designed to ensure that we have safe and environmentally protective mining and to prevent the problems of the past.
 Reclamation laws, or their equivalent, exist in all mining states. In addition, there are more than three dozen federal environmental laws and regulations that cover mining of hardrock minerals on public lands throughout the United States.
 Today, operators must go through a lengthy permitting process to obtain numerous federal, state and local permits that are required before any mining can begin. Before an ounce of earth is moved, mine operators must file and receive approval for detailed plans committing them to returning the land to safe and stable condition. They also must provide financial assurances to back up these permits and plans.
 All sides recognize and agree that the issues of abandoned mines and reclamation are important ones. However, it is apparent that only industry believes it's time to talk solutions and not recycle old and counterproductive rhetoric about the problem.
 The Mineral Resources Alliances (MRA) is a group of companies and organizations committed to responsible and balanced changes to the mining law. The alliance includes hardrock mining companies, suppliers, vendors, their employees and others throughout the country who support the preservation of a healthy U.S. hardrock mining industry.
 -0- 7/20/93
 /CONTACT: Peter Soh for the Mineral Resources Alliance, 202-331-3363/


CO: Mineral Resources Alliance ST: District of Columbia IN: MNG SU:

MH-DS -- DC004 -- 6591 07/20/93 08:54 EDT
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Date:Jul 20, 1993
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