Local

Carmelita mine reclamation plan approved

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The owners of a proposed gravel mine now have approval to start digging. The state mining and geology board backed Fresno County's approval of the Carmelita mine.

The Carmelita mine would scoop gravel from beneath a thousand acres of farmland near Sanger and Reedley

Local residents and a group called Friends of the Kings River argued the plan was flawed because once the mining was done, more than 600 acres of water filled pits would remain.

In a vote last October The Fresno County Board of Supervisors saw no problem with that.

Supervisor Henry Perea reassured the Mining and Geology Board meeting in Fresno on Thursday that the county supported the project, and attorneys for Gerawan Farming, and its mining subsidiary Colony Land Company, told the Mining and Geology Board members they didn't have the authority to reinterpret the county's decision.

But local residents told the board the plan was flawed because the gravel mine would dig into the water table, and both deplete and contaminate the water supply and leave behind those 600 acres of open water filled pits.

The mining board decided a three two vote not to intervene and let the county's decision stand. A welcome decision for the company and the project manager Mike Mallery.

"Very good news we are looking forward to plans to make the mine operational in the very near future," said Mallery.

But the Friends of the Kings River weren't happy. Their attorney, Marsha Burch said other environmental challenges have been filed, and the legal fight over reclamation may not be over.

Burch said, "It's certainly a potential and we now have to sit down and decide the next steps."

But she acknowledged taking on a multimillion dollar corporation is not easy.

"It's hard," said Burch. "It's really hard it's just one day, one step after another and hope for the best."

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fresno, fresno county, local, gene haagenson
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