The Oak Hill Quarry entrance in Lewis
NYCO Minerals is another step closer to receiving the land it needs for mining in the North Country.
The New York State Assembly June 20 approved first passage of a resolution to amend the state constitution and allow for a land exchange that will help Willsboro-based NYCO Mineral, Inc. continue its wollastonite mining operation in Essex County. The Senate passed the resolution a day earlier.
The approximately 200-acre property NYCO is seeking in the deal, known as Lot 8, is owned by the state of New York and is adjacent to the existing NYCO mine in the town of Lewis. Under the deal, the state Department of Environmental Conservation would do test drillings and appraise the value of the lot, while NYCO would be required to buy a parcel of equal or greater value for inclusion in the Forest Preserve for a price tag of no less than $1 million.
Also under the deal, NYCO would be required to restore the property to make it compatible with the surrounding forest and convey it back to the state for inclusion into the Forest Preserve following the mining.
“Obviously we are very pleased to have received first passage legislative support to exchange land with New York state that would benefit the North Country economy and expand the state Forest Preserve,” said Peter Goodwin, president of NYCO Minerals.
In a release, Goodwin said NYCO officials are looking forward to working with the state to ensure the passage of what they believe is a vital piece of property.
“The acquisition of Lot 8 is crucial for extending the life of the NYCO operation in New York state,” Goodwin said. “With the addition of Lot 8 reserves, NYCO estimates that its operations could be extended 10 years, providing economic benefits to NYCO, its 102 employees, local residents and New York state. Closure of the Lewis Mine without the acquisition of Lot 8 would have an adverse impact on NYCO, and the state would lose an opportunity to grow its Forest Preserve.”
State Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, who is the former supervisor and current resident of Willsboro, co-sponsored the bill with state Sen. Betty Little.
“This amendment will assure continued operations benefiting both the Adirondack economy and the Forest Preserve,” Sayward said. “Gov. Cuomo, DEC Commissioner Martens and the Adirondack Mountain Club are to be commended for their efforts in assisting us through the process and to first passage.”
Sayward will not be in office when the second vote is cast, as she has announced her retirement from the seat.
“NYCO is one of our biggest employers in Essex County, and their continued success is vitally important to those who work there, their families and many other businesses in the area,” Little said.
The Lewis Mine has been mined for wollastonite since 1981 and is expected to be productive for only another three or four years. Lot 8, currently part of the state Forest Preserve, borders the west side of the Lewis Mine property. NYCO estimates that there is a potential 1.2-1.5 million tons of reserves in the lot, which would require 10 years of mining.
The amendment is part of a package deal to make changes to Article 14 in the state constitution, as it is coupled with a clause that would end the land dispute between the state and more than 200 residents of Township 40 in Raquette Lake.
The amendment must be passed again next year by the new state Legislatures and then ratified by New York voters, most likely in the November 2013 general election.