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Rule Would Put New Mining Claims On Hold In Southwest Oregon Hot Spot

The Kalmiopis Wilderness. A nickel mine proposed for a roadless area outside the wilderness has run into difficulty in the permitting process.
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The Kalmiopis Wilderness. A nickel mine proposed for a roadless area outside the wilderness has run into difficulty in the permitting process.

About 100,000 acres of federal land in southwest Oregon would be off-limits to new mining claims under a proposal expected Monday.

The area is in Josephine and Curry counties near the Chetco River. Conservation groups have been trying to protect the area from nickel mining and other types of mineral extraction.

The Bureau of Land Management has the power to stop new mining development for up to 20 years through a process called “land withdrawal.”

In a preliminary federal notice issued Friday, the agency proposes to withdraw the area for five years. That would allow time for Congress to consider legislation to permanently exclude mining. Current valid mining claims would still be honored.

Once the notice is published, there will be a 90-day public comment period and public meetings scheduled.

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Jes Burns is a reporter for OPB's Science & Environment unit. Jes has a degree in English literature from Duke University and a master's degree from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communications.