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WSU hosts lecture on copper mining effects

Washington State University is hosting a lecture in Vancouver, Wash. by Bill Carter, director and writer of "Boom, Bust, Boom - A Story About Copper, the Metal that Runs the World."

He will be speaking about the proposed copper mines on Mount St. Helens. The lecture will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 23 in the Dengerink Administration Building, Room 110. The event is free and open to the public.

Mount St. Helens, home to a national volcanic monument, is being scoped out for mining opportunities by Ascot Resources Ltd., a Canadian company.

Ascot holds a permit granted by the Bureau of Land Management for exploratory drilling. They have an 110,000-acre patented claim to the main copper deposit and private rights to 50 percent of the subsurface copper deposits.

The U.S. Forest Service owns the other half, as well as surface rights.

Ascot has already started drilling holes in the Green River watershed, 12 miles from the Mount St. Helens crater. However, since its founding in 1986, Ascot has abandoned two unsuccessful diamond mines in Canada as well as gold mines in Argentina, Peru and Mexico.

Often when junior mining companies find a worthwhile deposit, it is bought out by a bigger mining company.

The Green River provides clean water to the Washington communities of Kelso, Longview and Castle Rock and is home to salmon and steelhead.

The chemical effects of mining would be detrimental to these populations as well as to old-growth forest habitat and recreational areas including trails, lakes and Green River Horse Camp.

Sulfide is a geological byproduct of ore deposits that contain copper, gold, platinum and nickel. When miners break ground to find the precious metals, the sulfides escape, mingling with air and water.

Mixing these chemicals is all it takes to produce sulfuric acid, which is used in batteries and cleaning agents.

During acid mine drainage, sulfuric acid and toxins soak into aquatic environments, festering for hundreds of years. Affected streams can have a pH of lower than 4, close to the acid levels of batteries.

It costs millions to clean up sulfide spills — more than the miners produce. The 1980s Summitville mine in Colorado was the most costly in U.S. history. They mined $130 million in gold, but it will take a hundred years and $235 million to clear 17 miles of the Alamosa River of cyanide and acid mine drainage. The area is now a Superfund site.

Carter’s lecture will be about strategizing specific types of mining in certain places and is not against all mining.

He suffered poisoning from produce grown in his family’s garden due to contamination from the copper mining industry.

WSU Vancouver is located at 14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Ave., east of the 134th Street exit from either I-5 or I-205, or via C-Tran bus service. Parking is free for this event.

Julia Rogers can be reached at 503-546-5137 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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