Protect the Adirondacks has filed a Memo of Opposition with the State Senate against second passage of a Constitutional Amendment to swap Forest Preserve lands with NYCO Minerals, Inc., a mining company. NYCO currently operates two mines in the Town of Lewis and a processing plant in the Town of Willsboro. NYCO mines wollastonate, an ore used for manufacturing many different products.

See a press release from PROTECT and see a copy of the state legislation.

See a much more detailed article posted on the Adirondack Almanack website about the NYCO amendment.

Since the early 1970s, NYCO has managed a mine on Seventy Mountain in the Town of Lewis that borders the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area. This mine is part of a 260-acre tract of land. The mine pit has expanded from 30 acres in the 1970s to 80 acres today. NYCO has received dozens of permits from the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to operate and expand this mine.

NYCO is now seeking permission through a Constitutional Amendment to explore 200 acres along the west wall of the mine for use for mining.

In the late 1990s, NYCO sought and received an APA permit for a new mine, two miles from the existing mine. The new mine is called Oakhill mine and has been operational for more than 10 years. NYCO has been leasing the lands on the Oakhill mine for more than 10 years to Graymount, Inc., which removes “aggregate” bedrock from the site for manufacture to various crushed stone. At the time NYCO sought a permit to develop the Oakhill mine, its stated it would not operate two mines simultaneously, but needed the new mine because reserves were running out at the Lewis mine.

Mining operation has been a burden on nearby residents due to regular blasting and from truck traffic that hauls ore from Lewis to Willsboro. The Lewis mine is accessed via a steep hill and poor roads and the heavy trucking impacts local residences. This is not an issue with the Oakhill mine, which has a private road and accesses onto a state highway.

In 2006, NYCO submitted a 25-year plan to the APA that outlined plans to transition from the Lewis mine to the Oakhill mine. This reports showed NYCO’s projections that the Oakhill mine had better mining conditions because of a higher grade of wollastonite.

This proposal sets a poor precedent for making the Forest Preserve available for private commercial gain and should be rejected for the following reasons.

1. The proposal is totally contrary to “Forever Wild,” the only Article of the Constitution adopted unanimously by the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1894, the first 54 words of which remain unchanged to this day.

2. The proposal is totally contrary to the consistent theme of the few amendments enacted since: each was limited in scope; each was in furtherance of a public, not a private purpose (expansion of a town cemetery, expansion of a public airport, needed improvements for a public water supply, minimization of public utility routes and impacts, among others), and each resulted in a net benefit to the Forest Preserve.

3. NYCO has long planned to transition from its current Lewis mine, which borders the Forest Preserve. NYCO has better options other than utilizing the Forest Preserve. NYCO has $100 million worth of state-of-the-art processing equipment at its current plant in Willsboro. In the late 1990s, NYCO sought and received a permit for a new open pit mine at a location near its existing mine in the Town of Lewis from the Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation. At the time of the hearing, NYCO believed it had less than five years of material left to mine and needed a new site to justify major plant upgrades. It received all necessary permits. NYCO has prepared the new site on Oakhill for mining wollastonite. NYCO has also entered into a long-term contract to supply aggregate from overburden bedrock on this site, which has helped to remove overburden. NYCO has a clear alternative other than using the Forest Preserve.

4. NYCO estimates that Oak Hill would yield ore for at least 16-21 years. NYCO also own 455 acres around the Oak Hill mine, which contains wollastonite reserves, far beyond the current mine pit of 54 acres.

5. NYCO seeks to keep the Lewis mine open so that it can delay closing and restoration costs.

6. NYCO is seeking to continue operating two mines simultaneously.

See aerial pictures below of the Lewis mine, Oakhill mine, and both mines.