LePage signs bill allowing Bald Mountain mining

Posted April 24, 2012, at 5:45 a.m.
Last modified April 24, 2012, at 5:30 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill to revise Maine’s mining regulations.

In a State House ceremony Tuesday, the governor said the bill opens the door to good jobs while protecting the environment. Supporters said it was adopted after an unusually thorough review process.

“It’s time to modernize Maine’s metallic mining regulations — now more than two decades old and under which a permit has never been issued — to reflect improvements in mining technology. This effort has the potential to create hundreds of jobs in northern Maine. It’s an opportunity we simply can’t afford to lose,” LePage said in a statement.

The commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, Patricia Aho, said the new law starts a process of updating the state’s mining rules and regulations, which will be presented to the Legislature in 2014.

The legislation was prompted by J.D. Irving Co.’s interest in mining gold, silver, copper and other metals in Aroostook County’s Bald Mountain. The bill’s supporters said restrictions in the law hamper the ability to develop potential mines in the state.

Environmentalists expressed reservations with the law, saying it weakens groundwater standards for mining operations and cleanup requirements for mining operations.

“These operations have no place in Maine,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor.