RENO, Nev.— Nevada Gold Mines (NGM) has announced plans to sell the Long Canyon Mine in northeast Nevada. Both the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation and a coalition of citizens’ conservation and public accountability groups (Great Basin Resource Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter, Wild Horse Education, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada) separately led formal water protests in April of 2020 against the enormous water allocation applications by NGM.

The applications would have allowed the mine to pump on average 45,000 acre-feet per year (over half the annual water use by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority) for 20 or more years removing over 300 billion gallons of water from the deep aquifer.

This aggressive pumping campaign would signicantly affect springs and wetlands in the region including the Johnson Springs Wetland Complex (JSWC), comprising 88 individual springs with combined total long-term average ow of 1,715 gallons per minute. This would cause signicant harm to hundreds of species of wildlife, including sage grouse, endangered Relict Dace and numerous game species, such as mule deer, pronghorn and elk.

“The Johnson Springs and Big Springs complex is itself a sacred site of worship that is culturally connected to other signi cant and recognized cultural areas including the Swamp Cedars Area to the south in Spring Valley,” said Chairman Rupert Steele of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation. “Protection of the cultural values and ongoing spiritual practices that depend on these springs and wetlands requires protection of the springs’ and wetlands’ water sources as well.”

“Nevada Gold Mines’s decision to unload the property signals a recognition by the company that the mine is fundamentally incompatible with the highly valued springs and cultural areas,” said John Hadder, executive director of Great Basin Resource Watch. “Even the company can’t nd a defensible mitigation for the damage that the massive groundwater pumping that the mine expansion would have caused,” he said.
“The imperiled sh, mule deer and greater sage grouse that rely on these springs can
breathe a sigh of relief,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Biodiversity is what gives us clean air to breath, clean water to drink, and it’s what puts food on our tables. The precious springs and rare species that call the Long Canyon area home are too special to let destructive gold mining ruin them.”

“Water is life in the Nevada desert,” said Laura Leigh, president of Wild Horse Education. “Many of the last large wild horse herds in the country exist in this state and experience intense encroachment from mining disturbances. The decision to sell the property indicates a recognition of the damage expansion will cause. However, we must remain vigilant in this area to guard against industrial expansion.”

Long Canyon Mine was approved in 2015 and has been operational since 2016. The gold mine stripped away the hillside on the east side of the Pequop Mountains, above Johnson Springs, and is now in care and maintenance mode.