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MINING COMPANIES HEAD SOUTH OF THE BORDER

 MINING COMPANIES HEAD SOUTH OF THE BORDER
 SPOKANE, Wash., Dec. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Frustrated by high costs


and time-consuming regulatory procedures in the United States, more and more mining companies are looking for minerals in Mexico, Central and South America.
 "Mining investment in Mexico will total about $650 million by the end of the year," said Robert Schafer, a Denver geological consultant attending the 97th annual Northwest Mining Association (NWMA) convention in Spokane, Wash.
 Schafer was part of a panel of experts discussing the southerly migration of mining companies on Wednesday, Dec. 4, the opening day of the convention. More than 3,400 members of the minerals industry had registered to attend the meeting by Wednesday morning.
 There are geologic, political and economic incentives for mining companies to go to Latin America, Schafer said. The geology is similar to that in North America, so the miners know how and where to look for mineral deposits. Political problems that existed 10 or 15 years ago, such as unfriendly dictatorships, are disappearing. And mining companies can explore for and develop mineral deposits more quickly and at a lower cost than they can in the United States, Schafer said.
 "Environmental costs in the United States are skyrocketing," said Douglas Silver, a mineral economist on the panel. "And if proposed changes to the Mining Law of 1872 are made, business costs will increase even more."
 Silver also objected to changes in the mining law because they would keep small companies from mining activities.
 "I think we have an anti-trust issue here," Silver said.
 Allan Marter, an investor relations expert from Denver, echoed Silver's concerns about changes in the mining law.
 "Five out of seven major projects in the United States would become uneconomic," Marter said. "Companies are running scared."
 Historically, companies have come to the United States because of its political stability, Schafer said.
 "Now, U.S. companies are going outside for the same reason," Schafer said.
 Mining companies operating in other countries are using the latest technology to protect the environment, according to Marshall Koval, an environmental expert and incoming president of the Northwest Mining Association.
 "Latin America can learn from the mistakes we made in our environmental regulations," Koval said. "We have too much emphasis on punitive damages for past practices, while we should spend our money to protect the environment instead."
 Koval said that the mining industry has new technology that wasn't available 50 or 100 years ago when most of the damage to the environment was caused.
 "We are responsible operators," Koval said. "We want to achieve our goals and protect our environment at the same time."
 The Northwest Mining Association was organized in 1895 in Spokane to support the minerals industry in the Northwest. With headquarters still in Spokane, the Association now has more than 3,500 members throughout North America, representing all aspects of the minerals industry.
 -0- 12/5/91
 /CONTACT: Bill Mote of the Northwest Mining Association, 509-624-1951 (through Dec. 6), or 509-624-1158 (after Dec. 9)/ CO: Northwest Mining Association ST: Washington IN: MNG SU: ECO


LM-TB -- SE003 -- 9636 12/05/91 11:36 EST
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Date:Dec 5, 1991
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