Red Lady Coalition

Mission Statement

The Red Lady Coalition is a group of individuals and organizations whose mission is preservation of a safe, intact and protected Mt. Emmons. This includes preserving the integrity ...


Historic Town of Crested Butte

©2012 Red Lady Coalition
Crested Butte, CO

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Breaking News Update - February 19th 2016

Mine Free Mt. Emmons - On the Road to Reality

We are pleased to share with you recent exciting developments in the efforts to have a mine free Mt. Emmons.  Our misssion statement states we will work towards "preservation of a safe, intact and protected Mt. Emmons. This includes preserving the integrity of the Crested Butte Municipal water supply, Ohio Creek, broader Gunnison River headwaters and underpinnings of Gunnison Valley's economy".

Last week, the Mt. Emmons Mining Company, a subsidiary of global minig company Freeport-McMoRan, acquired the Mt. Emmons mining assets from U.S. Energy. On Tuesday, February 16, 2016, the new owner of the mine, several state agencies, the Town of Crested Butte and Gunnison County released a proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the changes that will take place as a result of that mine acquisition.
That includes the operation of the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) that treats contaminated mine water from the old Keystone Mine prior to discharging into Coal Creek above Crested Butte. This MOU involves a series of actions that will help ensure the protection of Coal Creek, as well as continue the process of finding a permanent solution that could result in a mine-free Red Lady.

The MOU requires Freeport-McMORan, through it's subsidiary, acquired all of USE's properties and interests on and around Red LAdy. What happens with that is being negotiated but there is every indication that Freeport and its MEMC has no desire to pursue a mine on Mt. Emmons.

Read detailed story in the Crested Butte News @

Thompson Creek Metals Terminates Option Agreement with U.S. Energy

On April 25, 2011, Thompson Creek Metals publically announced that it had terminated its option agreement with U.S. Energy Corp. to acquire an interest in the Mount Emmons molybdenum project. "We made the strategic decision to step back from the Mount Emmons project and focus our efforts and resources on our Berg exploration property located in British Columbia," stated Kevin Loughrey, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Thompson Creek. "Berg represents an attractive development project that potentially expands our molybdenum production, but also can further our diversification efforts. The measured and indicated resources for the Berg property include 3.3 billion pounds of copper, 412 million pounds of molybdenum, and 61 million ounces of silver. We have redirected the pre-feasibility funding previously budgeted for Mount Emmons to Berg for an advanced scoping study to be initiated in 2011," he added.

We believe we now have a window of opportunity to seek a permanent solution to mining on Mt. Emmons. It's time to move on to promoting a sustainable economy based on our amenity driven resources.

Proposed Mt. Emmons Baseline Studies

On March 14, 2010, U.S. Energy and the Mt. Emmons Moly Corp. submitted a Plan of Operations (PoO) to the U.S. Forest Service to conduct baseline studies in order to determine suitable sites for mining facilities such as reservoirs, tailings ponds, mill sites, etc.  Following review by the USFS, a modified PoO was accepted into the NEPA process in December 2010. Full details are available at (click "View a Listing of All Projects" and select "Mt Emmons Baseline Study Plan of Operations"). On January 25 and 26, 2011, presentations regarding the proposed baseline studies were made in Gunnison and Mt. Crested Butte as part of the scoping phase of NEPA.  The proposed studies contemplate:
  • Surficial Mapping
  • Geophysical Surveys
  • Test Pit Excavation - approximately 26 pits averaging 9 feet deep, 20 feet wide and 10 feet long
  • Geotechnical Boring - up to 25 drill holes of a maximum 3 inches wide and a depth of between 130 and 300 feet; the drill rigs for this are proposed to be helicoptered in and out for a total of 50 helicopter trips per site excluding personnel and supplies
  • Stream-Flow Measurement.
The work is proposed to be conducted during the period July 1 to November 15, 2011, but it could possibly continue into the summer of 2012. The USFS comment period for this scoping phase ended on January 31, 2011. Your board submitted a comment letter addressing the potentially adverse economic impact of these baseline studies. We are aware that High Country Citizens' Alliance (HCCA) also submitted a comment letter addressing a number of environmental and water quality issues.

NEPA and the 1872 Mining Act

While your Board has discussed the relationship between NEPA and the 1872 Mining Act in the past, we believe it may be helpful to briefly summarize it here, since the USFS went to great lengths to explain that relationship at the January presentations.

The 1872 Mining Act effectively trumps all other legislation. For example, as the coordinating agency under NEPA, the USFS does not have the statutory right to deny a mining proposal. The USFS must assure that all other statutes are reasonably adhered to. Thus, it can impose reasonable mitigants to environmental and socio-economic impacts.

Socioeconomic Study Update

In the latter part of 2010, the Center for Applied Research, whom we have retained to conduct the Socioeconomic Study, held a "DOLA Workshop" (Colorado Department of Local Affairs) with participants that included the former chief economist of DOLA and a current representative of DOLA. The workshop used publicly available DOLA information to construct an analysis of basic jobs in the Gunnison-Mt Crested Butte corridor. In short, the analysis concluded that over 65% of the basic jobs are attributable to "amenity-resources".

Copies of a presentation of the Phase I baseline results as well as the output from the DOLA workshop are available for those who would like them. Please contact Bill Ronai at

We are now ready to commence the major task of Phase II of the study - the surveys. However, before we can start, two goals must be achieved:

1. Fundraising

We need to raise an additional $70,000 to reach our target of $260,000 - the cost of the Socioeconomic Study. We have received a second Challenge Grant from Castleton Ranch, which will match contributions 1 for 2, so please take advantage of this opportunity. Bring a check when you come to the Membership Meeting on February 16. If you can't make the meeting, please mail a check to Red Lady Coalition, P.O. 1653, Crested Butte, CO 81224

2. Survey Steering Committee

The Center for Applied Research has recommended that to assure a broad range of input for the surveys, a Steering Committee be established to represent organizations in the valley that either provide or benefit from the amenities that drive our economy.

To reiterate, the surveys will document the investment and spending patterns of full- and part-year residents, winter and summer visitors, and business people who provide goods and services to the activities that drive this economy. The surveys will also measure how the respondents may change their spending and investment patterns in response to changes in the prevailing economy and environment, including the presence of a molybdenum mine on Mt. Emmons. The surveys will also establish the number of residents who have chosen to live in Gunnison County primarily due to the availability of the amenity-based resources. Finally, the surveys will reveal the extent to which the respondents have financial resources that they would use to invest in, enhance and stimulate this economy; and this will shed light on the intra-valley economic dynamic.

The Red Lady Coalition Strategy

To achieve our ultimate goal of having U.S. Energy place its approximately 350 acres of private land on Mt Emmons into a conservancy trust in return for compensation, we need to get them to the negotiating table. We hope that this will  happen now that Thompson Creek Metals decided to abandon its option to partially own and operate a molybdenum mine. Our short and medium term efforts are thus focused on convincing U.S. Energy that there are reasonable people throughout the Gunnison-Mt Crested Butte corridor who are skeptical that there will be any net benefit from a proposed mine and that U.S. Energy's interests are better served by deploying its resources elsewhere.

As we execute our strategy, it is useful to reiterate the division of roles between RLC and the HCCA. RLC's prime roles encompass (a) developing and implementing a financial education campaign and (b) recommending the strategy and tactics and being the lead voice in negotiating with the mining interests. HCCA's prime roles encompass (a) the permitting process and legal actions associated therewith; (b) local and regional public education and outreach; and (c) political outreach.

The three-phase Socioeconomic Study which we are in the process of undertaking forms the basis of our financial education campaign. We have begun to use Phase I results to lay the groundwork for our concerns about a proposed mine in conversations with organizations and residents throughout the Gunnison-Mt Crested Butte corridor.

Public Outreach

The Board has hired the public relations firm Buzz, Inc. to assist us in getting national, prime media coverage for our socioeconomic work. We believe that in order to capture the attention of decision makers who may have an impact on U.S. Energy, we will benefit from Buzz' expertise.
The Red Lady Coalition Board is pleased to announce that Vicki Church has become our new RLC Administrator. Please give her a warm welcome.

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