We are the Western Mining Alliance
Welcome to the web home of the Western Mining Alliance. It’s likely we’re out chasing gold. If you are interested in the hunt for American gold, then you’ve found the right place. We are the largest organization of independent miners in the country. We’re committed to preserving the uniquely American tradition of exploration, prospecting and development of mines. We support reasonable environmental protection and we encourage responsible mining.
There’s still a lot of gold in them hills. Geologists estimate there is twice as much gold remaining as was taken out during the gold rush. Most operational gold mines shut down during World War II and the expense of reopening them exceeded the return with gold at $32 an ounce. Today, with gold exceeding $1,300 an ounce there is a renewed interest in gold mining.
We support and defend a type of gold mining called suction gold dredging. The suction gold dredge is the most efficient mining equipment invented. It is portable, causes no environmental damage and is 98% efficient in recovering gold on the bottoms of the rivers. This type of mining has been ongoing since the invention of the air regulator, over 50 years. As opposed to environmentalist claims, there is no environmental harm. These small machines move a few cubic yards of gravel per day from the river bottom, and then redeposit the same gravel back to the same spot. The spring floods erase all traces of the previous year’s activity.
We disagree with the State of California’s Environmental Impact Report. The media typically reports simply “significant environmental effects” were found. Did you ever stop to wonder what those effects were?
What’s the Controversy About
(1) We create noise. A suction dredge typically uses the same engine your lawnmower does, and it operates on a federal mining claim deep in the canyons of the mountains. The average runs about 64db which is 4 db above conversation levels. A chainsaw runs about 110 db.
(2) We stir up silt. This is true, we do stir up silt, but there is not a single documented case, ever, of a single fish being harmed by this silt. All research papers which have studied dredges in operation have found the silt dissipates rapidly, in fact it’s completely gone within 100 meters of the operation.
(3) We stir up mercury. Not true. The EIR speculated a suction dredge would disturb the mercury and release mere molecules of mercury. However, the theory wasn’t proven. In fact during the test using an instrumented suction dredge the researchers found mercury levels below the dredge were lower than mercury levels above the dredge. The environmental report ignored this result and instead used a hand dug pit in the most mercury contaminated location in the state to achieve their results. It would have been impossible for a real suction dredge to have operated where they dug their pit. The truth is flexible.
(4) We release mercury forever trapped in sediment layers. Mercury, and in fact nothing, is forever trapped. A recent study by Dr. Michael Singer of the University of California, Santa Barbara, confirms even the deepest levels of sediment bound mercury are released with the ten year flood. Do you want to recover this mercury before it moves, or let it move to the valleys? The EIR found suction dredgers have likely removed from the California waterways more than 2.5 tons of mercury, but this was ignored in favor of stopping a few molecules of mercury from being released.
(5) We endanger wildlife. Absolutely untrue and completely unsupported by the record. There is not a single documented case of a suction dredger harming even one fish during fifty years of operation. Not one single case.
Propaganda is Not the same as Research
- The environmental groups spend over $4 billion per year to convince you the environment is in dire trouble, it’s not true
- There are currently 1,516 species in the United States listed as threatened or endangered and environmental groups are petitioning to add hundreds more per year
- Critical habitat already approaches nearly 50% of the land mass of California and Oregon
- Recent endangered species listings are the result of sub-dividing species into more and more specific locations, for example there are millions and millions of Coho Salmon, but when you subdivide this species into only where it lays its eggs you end up with the endangered Upper Columbia River Coho, the endangered Middle Columbia River Coho.
- The federal government owns nearly 1/3 of all the lands in this country that’s over 770 million acres
- Environmentalists continue to push for even more lands to be withdrawn from the private economy and even more restrictions be placed on existing lands including private property
Our Cause is Freedom
Economic freedom and the support of rural America. We, and other groups are doing something about it. It’s simple, we’re shining the light of day of the interconnected web of environmental groups, universities, corporations and the government. At the end of the day it’s all about money, and there’s a lot of money involved in saving the environment. Being a non-profit doesn’t make you an angel, it’s just as likely to make you a demon.
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