By Deb Murphy

With the public comment period ending November 20, the Inyo Board of Supervisors will discuss a letter in support of Silver Standard’s plans to conduct an exploration for gold on Conglomerate Mesa in the Inyo Mountains east of Lone Pine and Olancha.

The Bureau of Land Management’s Environmental Assessment is available online. Check the Sierra Wave website for the link.

According to the EA, seven holes would be drilled within previously disturbed and reclaimed exploration routes. The individual drill pads would measure 12 by 60 feet and include 5 by 5 by 4 feet deep drilling fluid sumps.

Silver Standard’s preferred alternative includes reconstruction of roads to access the sites; the BLM’s preference is for helicopter transportation of equipment and personnel.

Either way, reclamation is a mandate for any work done on the land, an area within the recent Desert Renewable Energy Conservation land use plan.

According to the company’s geologist Angela Johnson, the company’s preference would be to re-open roads used to access old mining claims in the area. The graded roads and drilling sites would be recontoured and reseeded. BLM requires a 3 to 1 reclamation which translates into 23.25 acres of mitigation for 7.75 acres of disturbance for Silver Standard’s road access alternative.

Concern from the environmental community focuses on what will happen to the mesa if the exploration turns up enough gold to justify an open pit mine.

Consideration of the letter of support is an 11:15 timed item. The EA is available at

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