U.S. Department of the Interior News
NAIIP News ~ Friday, September, 1, 2000

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona – Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt today announced an agreement which will end a long controversy and result in the closing of the White Vulcan mine, located in the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff.

The open-pit mine has been producing pumice which has been used to stonewash jeans. The mine, located in the Coconino National Forest and owned by the Arizona Tufflite Corporation, will be closed within the next six months. In return for $1 million, Tufflite will also give up all of its 49 mining claims in the area and restore the mine site.

“I am pleased that this mine is being shut down and this long controversy is ending,” said Babbitt. “The mine is on land which is sacred to 13 Native American tribes and the operation of this mine has scarred the San Francisco Peaks.”

The agreement to close the mine fulfills a pledge Babbitt made when he visited the site last April 25. He pledged to seek the closing of the mine as soon as possible and also said he would try to end the various lawsuits filed by opponents of the mine.

“This agreement accomplishes both those objectives,” said Babbitt. “It is time to end this fight and restore the San Francisco Peaks to their natural splendor.”

Arizona Tufflite had mined the site under provisions of the 1872 Mining Law and Babbitt said the controversy was one more example of why the outdated law needs to be changed.

“The White Vulcan mine offers just one more example of why we need to reform our outdated mining laws,” Babbitt said. “While I appreciate Arizona Tufflite’s willingness to work with us to end this particular controversy, the fact is that many other mining operations throughout the West continue to degrade our public land. Not only do these mining companies avoid paying royalties to the government for taking publicly-owned minerals, but the American public is often left holding the bag when mining companies walk away without cleaning up their mess.”