Spokesman hopes to bring back industry
By Jamie Henneman/The Independent Staff
A local man is working on reorganizing the Chewelah Mining District in hopes of reducing burdensome regulations on mining in the area and bring back the industry. A meeting to reorganize the Chewelah Mining District is set for this Friday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. at the Hunters Inn in Hunters.
Mike Inman, a long time miner who has worked in California and Oregon, said a federal law passed in the late 1800s that allowed for the creation of mining districts still provides authority for established mining districts to govern and regulate themselves.
“The 1872 General Mining Law gives mining districts powers and authorities to regulate themselves,” said Inman. “If we are able to reorganize the Chewelah Mining District, we should be able to negotiate with regulators to get better treatment.”
Inman said the Chewelah Mining District, which was created in 1885, is still a legitimate entity. Only five claim owners are needed to reorganize the district so it can begin working to bring mining back to Stevens County. He said helping mining re-start in Stevens County could have significant impacts.
“For Chewelah, there are mines that were active in the 1970s on Eagle Mountain that have shut down and the area had several magnesite mines,” said Inman. “This area is also rich in natural resources like lead, zinc and non-metallic metals.”
Inman said some shuttered processing facilities, like Northwest Alloys in Addy, could potentially be open and functioning again if mining regained industry status in the area.
“The mining industry is closing up and we are bringing in product from overseas. People overseas are working and we aren’t,” he said.
Inman said most mining has been driven out of the U.S. due to excessive regulation.
“With the state, it is almost impossible to get permits to mine. They have way overstepped their bounds. All of the state and federal agencies are anti-mining,” said Inman. “But the movement to re-establish the mining districts is a national movement and it’s time for everyone to take note. The agencies have overstepped their bounds. They need to let us work.”
For more information on the reorganization of the Chewelah Mining District, call Inman at 722-6394.