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The Red Flat Mining Project

A Foreign-owned company wants to develop a nickel strip mine in the headwaters of Hunter Creek

Red Flat Nickel Corporation wants to develop two nickel laterite mines on thousands of acres of National Forest and BLM in Southwest Oregon. The furthest advanced is the Red Flat Mining Project in the headwaters of Hunter Creek and the North Fork Pistol River.

The project area is approximately seven miles southeast of Gold Beach, Oregon and the mouth of the world famous Rogue River about seven miles inland from the Wild Rivers Coast of Oregon and Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor  Park.

It’s a unique botanically rich area known as Red Flat that includes the Hunter Creek Bog and North Fork Hunter Creek Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (BLM), the Red Flat Botanical Area (FS) and the proposed Veva Stansell Botanical Area (FS).

While Red Flat mining claims are located on lands managed by the Coos Bay District BLM, the company is proposing exploratory drilling on lands managed by the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The Red Flat Mining Project

In November 2012, Red Flat Nickel Corporation (RFNC) submitted a mining plan of operations for the Red Flat Confirmation Drilling Program. The Forest Service has renamed mining project. It’s now called RF-38 Test Drilling. The mining plan plan of operations states it’s phase II of a “continuing operation.”  The company’s ultimate goal is to develop a nickel laterite mine in the project area.

RFNC is a subsidiary St. Peter Port Capital Limited. In order to expedite, the environmental analysis process and ultimately approval of the confirmation drilling, RFNC is paying for the environmental analysis.

Background

In 2007, Red Flat Nickel Corporation located approximately 114 federal mining claims on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and Coos Bay District BLM lands at Red Flat. According to BLM’s LR 2000 data base the claims are located as lode claims which are approximately 20 acres in size.

According to the Red Flat Mining Plan of Operation (POO):

From 2007 to 2009 the claimant completed additional surface sampling and drilling, including approximately 5,600 feet of drilling in 652 shallow auger holes, bulk sampling and 12 deeper sonic drill holes across the claim block.

There was no public notice that the mining company was conducting these activities on National Forest land until after the fact when Red Flat Nickel Corporation submitted a mining plan of operation for “confirmation drilling” at Red Flat. The POO describes the drilling project:

The claimant intends to continue sub-surface exploration through a limited deeper drilling program of approximately 1,500 feet of additional drilling in 35 drillholes to delineate mineralization at depth and to confirm the results of the prior work.

Forest Service Environmental Analysis

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest (RR-SNF) determined that only a categorical exclusion (CE) was need to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act for what they’re calling RF-38 Test Drilling. On November 13, 2013 the RR-SNF published an unsigned preliminary decision memo for the Red Flat Mining Plan of Operations. A 30 day public comment period followed.

The RR-SNF received over 600 comments for what they thought would be a relatively uncontroversial mineral exploration project. They were wrong.

Click here to go to the Forest Service’s project webpage for the Red Flat Mining Plan of Operations (RF-38). The webpage includes the environmental documents, public notices, plan of operations, comments and other information about the RF-38 Project. On the Forest Service page you can sign up for email updates. Click here to subscribe  to Forest Service updates for RF-38.

Check the right sidebar for updates and more information.

Naturally Occurring Asbestos

One of the concerns with developing and operating a nickel strip mine in the Red Flat Area is the disturbance of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) that have been found in the area. NOA can be a human health concern in parts of the country with certain types of geologic formations including serpentine terrain. One form of NOA is chrysotile.

A March 14, 1957 mineral report conducted by Southwest Engineering Company for Pacific Nickel Corporation found that samples from the Red Flat area contained 3% chrysotile. Click here to download a copy of the report from Oregon Department of Minerals and Geology. The sample contained more chrysotile than chromite.

Read more about chrysotile asbestos here.

Read memo submitted by local environmental groups with new information on NOA (100 kb pdf).

Foreign ownership

Principle ownership in Red Flat Nickel Corporation is held by St. Peter Port Capital (SPPC) of Guernsey, a British Protectorate. SPPC’s most recent annual report describes Red Flat Nickel Corporation as a subsidiary of SPPC. Check out our “mining threats” page for more information about RFNCSee also the April 7, 2013 Medford Mail Tribune.

Excuse our dust

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