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OREGON CONGRESSMAN OPPOSES CREATING GOLD MINING JOBS, NWMA SAYS

 OREGON CONGRESSMAN OPPOSES CREATING GOLD MINING JOBS, NWMA SAYS
 SPOKANE, Wash., Feb. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Northwest Mining Association (NWMA):
 An Oregon congressman apparently hasn't heard the message from the American people to get the economy going.
 Rep. Les AuCoin, D-Ore., unveiled proposed legislation earlier today at a press conference in Washington, D.C., that would prevent gold mining in Eastern Oregon and elsewhere. His bill would impose a tax on any mining operation using cyanide to extract gold, which would increase critical costs by at least 50 percent, virtually eliminating any possibility of new gold mines being opened and jeopardizing existing operations, according to mining experts.
 "Since there are no cyanide heap leach mines operating in Oregon, the only purpose this legislation will serve is to stifle economic development in the eastern part of the state, and have the land set aside as a recreation area for his urban constituency," said David Barrows, spokesman for the Oregon Mining Council.
 AuCoin represents Oregonians who live in Portland, on the west side of the state.
 "This seems to be part of a thrust by the Defenders of Wildlife and Sierra Club to close additional public lands not already affected by the spotted owl controversy," Barrows said, "which would have disastrous economic effects on our rural communities and businesses throughout the state."
 John Parks, who chairs the Oregon Mining Council, agrees that AuCoin's proposed legislation would only harm the Oregon economy. "Mining is a heavily regulated industry that must comply with stringent state and federal environmental standards that protect air and water quality," Parks said. "This is just the type of ill- conceived regulatory proposal, which only serves to stifle responsible economic development, that the President referred to in his State of the Union address last month."
 Mining companies have been required by federal law to reclaim mine sites on public lands at their own expense since the 1970s, according to Ivan Urnovitz with the Northwest Mining Association, so a new layer of bureaucracy is not needed.
 "The last thing America needs right now is legislation whose stated intent is to put people out of work and curtail production of one of the few minerals that the United States exports more than it imports, thus reducing our foreign trade deficit," Urnovitz said.
 Mining experts say that AuCoin's assertions regarding the impacts of heap leach gold mining directly contradict an exhaustive study released in June 1991 by the General Accounting Office (GAO) of the Congress. In this report, the GAO concluded that regulatory agencies already have adequate authority to protect wildlife and the environment from cyanide, and there has been very little environmental impact from cyanide operations.
 A separate study released last month by the American Mining Congress, conducted by the nationally known accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand, shows that anti-mining legislation such as AuCoin's would devastate the mining industry. At risk are 30,000 jobs and $3.8 billion in tax revenue currently collected by county, state and federal governments.
 "The message sent by voters in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary is that their number one concern is finding solutions to the nation's economic woes. What they don't want is legislation that will hinder a recovery and further reduce the tax base," Urnovitz said. "Rep. AuCoin does not seem to realize that county governments and school districts in his home state are already reeling from a drastic reduction in revenues due to the spotted owl crisis. The creation of family wage jobs is an important issue to the citizens of Oregon which the proposed legislation does not address."
 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 3,200 members throughout North America, representing all aspects of the minerals industry.
 -0- 2/20/92
 NOTE TO EDITORS: More information on the GAO report, the Coopers & Lybrand study and the environmental regulations that the mining community must comply with is available from the Northwest Mining Association. Videos on current mine practices and award-winning mined land reclamation are also available upon request.
 /CONTACT: Ivan Urnovitz of the Northwest Mining Association, 509-624-1158/ CO: Northwest Mining Association ST: Oregon IN: MNG SU:


LM-JH -- SE004 -- 1162 02/20/92 17:39 EST
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