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There’s Gold In Them Thar Glacier

Canadian mining company discovers a potentially rich gold vein near Glacier National Park, raising pollution concerns

Glacier National Park is known for vast natural resources, but they’re usually of the wild and scenic kind. But a recent gold discovery just ten miles north of the park threatens to have miners salivating and nature lovers frothing at the mouth.

Max Resource Corp, a mining company based out of Canada, spent the summer drilling ore samples in the Crowsnest wilderness of British Columbia, and in the process found an unusually rich potential goldmine. (Most operational gold mines yield 2-3 grams of gold per ton of earth; these samples yield an average of 19 grams of gold per ton, and one section contained 50 grams per ton.)

Several Montana interests, including both U.S. senators, oppose industrial development in the Crownsnest area. Democrats Max Baucus and Jon Tester each sent letters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, asking them to instate permanent protections for the headwaters of Glacier NP and the Flathead. Baucus and Tester also urged President Obama to discuss the issue with Canada, noting that a similar request for a pit coalmine in the area was rejected in 1985.

If Max Resource Corp. truly wants to begin mining, they’ll have a fight on their hands: In 1995 the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization declared Waterton Lakes NP and Glacier NP both World Heritage sites, and this past fall UNESCO began a study to determine if the area should be designated as a World Heritage site in danger.  According to UNESCO:

"Inscribing a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger allows the World Heritage Committee to allocate immediate assistance from the World Heritage Fund to the endangered property. It also alerts the international community to these situations in the hope that it can join efforts to save these endangered sites. The listing of a site as World Heritage in Danger allows the conservation community to respond to specific preservation needs in an efficient manner. Indeed, the mere prospect of inscribing a site on this List often proves to be effective, and can incite rapid conservation action."

Despite the certain battles facing the mining company, Max Resource plans to continue sampling and moving forward with gold mining in 2010. Should we stop them? Let us know what think about mining near Glacier NP in the comment section below.

-Jordan Olmsted

Company Claims Rich Gold Find North Of Glacier National Park (Flathead Beacon via AP)
UNESCO: World Heritage in Danger
Photo Credit: Donnie Sexton/Travel Montana

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