Taos County - New Mexico

  • February 01, 2011

Private Reward at Public Risk

mr-taosHere in the Land of Enchantment you can relax at the mineral springs, visit ancient cliff dwellings or fish clear mountain streams. You can also see a landscape dotted with mining claims in the Carson and Sante Fe national forests and beyond. While many were staked a decade or more ago, there's a more recent crop, including those staked by mining companies with abbreviated resumes.

Among the claims in this area are those staked in the name of a Canadian company, Magnum Minerals. Listed on the Toronto venture stock exchange, Magnum's financial filings state that “the Company had no business operations and no significant assets” in 2004. Today, Magnum's U.S. properties include Martinez Canyon in New Mexico, as well as property in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah.

This company resembles many others availing themselves of the open access policy of our nation's outdated mining law. While the bulk of actual mining is carried out by a handful of multinational mining companies, it is the smaller outfits—the “juniors” as they're called—that stake claims, explore, sometimes dissolve or sometimes find a purchaser. Some will take a risk on mining themselves and leave town quickly if things go bad.
“The junior mining industry is by nature a high risk, high reward business,” say business analysts. Unfortunately, some of these high stakes ventures, like the Summitville mine in Colorado, the Zortman Landusky mine in Montana or the Formosa mine in Oregon have imposed high cleanup costs on the public.

Side Trips:

Next, visit Sugartree Mountain.