MOVING MOUNTAINS

Blasting, Dust and Traffic Chaos

Mining the Floridas might not be such a good idea

Posted

I.

In the early nineteen hundreds

Deming was a railroad village

Next big railroad stop from Lordsburg

Big steam engines, Army bases

.

After railroad went to diesel

Farm and ranch supported Deming

Harvey House Hotel was leveled

Less excitement, war was over

.

Cows and chilies grew abundant

Thanks to Mimbres River water

Irrigating verdant croplands

In a place that seldom sees rain

.

Quiet life appealed to old folks

Peace and quiet, sun and Duck Race

Not much happens, which is good news

Just a dust storm, or a cold day

.

Deming benefited greatly.

 From attractive local scen'ry

Craggy mountains, endless vistas

Made it pleasant place to live here

.

Craggy mountain brought in rockhounds

Rockhounds who would pick up samples

Geolapidary treasures

 From a sea that's just a mem'ry

.

II.

On the west flank of Flo-Ree-Dahs

Near the very edge of wildness

Came a miner Dave Tognoni

Not an ordinary rockhound

.

Staked a claim on BLM land

Free for all, this land call'd Public

Scenic views, abundant wildlife

Easy access, no down payment

.

Nineteenth Century Mining Law

Expected only men with mules,

With pickaxe, not with high explosive,

With shovel, not with front end loader

.

Thinking big was miner David

Not content to have just one claim

David spun out over twenty

Twenty mine claims on Flo-Ree-Dahs

.

Dream he did of jobs for Deming

Fifteen thousand jobs for Deming

Deming, yes, and Luna County

Jobs for all of Luna County

.

Dreams of big new City building

Dreams of airport and refin'ry

Always planning for our future

Was our savior Dave Tognoni

.

"Right away" said Deming Chamber

"Right Away" the MainStreet echoed

"We don't need all of the details"

"Jobs are promised, let's get started"

.

Other agencies and people

Are more patient with Dave's big plan

Wait until he clarifies things

Not so hasty with their judgement

.

For example Fish and Wildlife,

Big New Mexico Department,

Said a better place can be found

Further from the edge of wildness

.

III.

Mining calls for major planning

Planning done by engineer teams

Taking in the situation

Here's what the planners said to do:

.

Standing near to Park-Ma-Ho-Ney

Is a hillock made of metal

Not exactly shiny metal

First you have to melt the big rocks

.

Dolomite is name of big rocks

Not quite sure how much is in there

Dave the Dreamer only took chips

Just a few chips off the surface

.

Need to drill and blast the hillock

Count up all the dolomite there

But Tognoni skipped this big step

Later maybe, need some cash first

.

Money flow is the suspicion

As the target of the mine claim

Dolomite is just a proxy

For the payoff to Tognoni

.

Hot propane fire will melt rock piles

Propane from a giant pipeline

Pipeline passes north of Deming

Not too far from PNM Plant

.

Sticky problem is location:

Park-Ma-Ho-Ney twenty miles south,

Power Plant is north of Deming

Eye-Ten highway lies between them

.

Interstate is just one problem

Railroad tracks stand in the way too

Not so easy moving mountain

With interstate and rails to cross

.

Gold Street runs through downtown Deming

Only way from Park to Plant site

Trucks and traffic will be chaos

Big mine trucks at Pine and Gold Streets

.

Mine truck traffic won't be minor

Twenty years of steady traffic

Loads of rock ten times each hour

Empty trucks on their return trip

.

Burning propane makes a lot of

C-O-Two, another problem

Global warming killing planet

Caused by too much C-O-Two gas

.

If the mine jobs really happen

Luna County might not see them

Workforce skills and residences

Favor Doña Ana County

.

High wage workers work in Deming

Have good jobs but do not live here

They prefer Las Cruces lifestyle

For the shopping and the high schools

.

IV.

Dave Tognoni had some practice

Mining lands without permission

Maybe Deming would be easy

Maybe dreams would work out this time

.

BLM is the landowner

Fed'ral land has complex rules

Mining permit will be needed

Faceless BLM might stop him

.

Challenges were blasting, traffic,

Dust and water, loss of quiet,

Scar on scen'ry, Indian gravesites,

Ibex hunters, night sky lighting

.

Planning rules are known as Nee-Pah

Nee-Pah is the path to get there

If you want to blast the mountain

You must jump the hoops of Nee-Pah

.

Years it takes to get a permit

BLM, then state permissions

But some disappointed locals

Interfered with all the planning

.

Nee-Pah mandates public hearing

Rude uneducated public

Horning in on dreams of David

Interfering with his mining

.

Gaps were found in all his planning

Such as people living nearby

Such as overhead conveyor

Plans were changed to pass inspection

.

Plans included only two claims

Of the rest no hint was given

Suspicion grew this was a fake-out

Rest of twenty claims must follow

.

Tognoni died, dream unfulfilled

Many thought the mine was finished

But his mine claims carried forward

Thanks to newfound heir named Carol

.

Dave Tognoni had advantage

He was college educated

Carol Brewka was less ready

Mining projects not her background

.

Four times plans faced big revision

'Til at last the Feds okayed it

"Yes, you can deface the mountain

Blast and haul off our Flo-Ree-Dahs"

.

Plan approval is called Fon-Zee

"FONSI" how it's really spelled

Fon-Zee says there is no impact

Or at least no major harm

.

Hasty was the BLM "Finding

of No Impact" to this plan

Like the rock chips of Tognoni

BLM did not dig too deep

.

Local citizens erupted

With an email conversation

Hundreds loudly joined their voices

Formed the "Friends of the Floridas"

.

Strategy was very simple

Sue the BLM directly

For their sloppy plan reviewing

Ask a Judge to throw it all out

.

Stench of mine plan reached all over

Many statewide action groups

Didn't like the great disturbance

Joined with locals in their suit

.

When a lawsuit up and hit them

BLM was in a tight spot

Had to call in Justice lawyers

To rectify the mess they'd made

.

Justice said to BLM they

Better ask for trial delay

Citizens make lots of good points

Do not want to lose abjectly

.

Months went by without a word

While BLM tried to recoup

They issued second "Final" rule

With reasoning yet more absurd

.

V.

And that is now where matters stand

BLM is on the defense

Friends of Floridas pressing hard

With four strong allies by their side

.

Might take years for Fed'ral Court

To hear all Motions, read all Briefs

Decision will be up to Judge then

Always possible to appeal

.

BLM is mine's first hurdle

They may have to start from scratch

But if not, the fight proceeds to

State mine permit, traffic, dust

.

Conquistadors from Old España

Yellow flowers caught their eye

Floreado, Montaña de Flores

"Flo-Ree-Dahs" in the Anglo tongue

.

====================

Resources

Plans, Studies, Public Comments and Approvals

Official Federal (BLM) Mining Project Site:

https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/1505404/570

Plans, Objections and Public Comments

Official State of NM Mining Project Site:

https://www.emnrd.nm.gov/mmd/mining-act-reclamation-program/pending-and-approved-mine-applications/minimal-impact-new/lu035mn-american-magnesium-foothills-dolomite-mine/

Friends of the Floridas Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/friendsofthefloridas

Deming Chamber of Commerce and Deming MainStreet write to NM Mining and  Minerals Division supporting mining in 2017. See pages 25 & 26:

https://www.emnrd.nm.gov/mmd/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017PublicComments.pdf

NM Department of Game and Fish suggest mining someplace else, and also  say "the Plan of Operations significantly under represents the diversity of wildlife". See Pages 14 & 15:

https://www.emnrd.nm.gov/mmd/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017-11-03MMDTransmittalofAgencyTribalandPublicComments_LU035MN.pdf

Magnesium Metal Sources and Uses:

https://www.usgs.gov/centers/nmic/magnesium-statistics-and-information

https://www.ga.gov.au/education/classroom-resources/minerals-energy/australian-mineral-facts/magnesium

How to Melt Dolomite Rocks:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pidgeon_process

https://www.cargohandbook.com/Dolomite

Opinion on Economic Impact on Deming from Mining:

https://www.demingheadlight.com/story/opinion/2021/03/25/your-turn-mining-holds-no-promise-luna-county/7000628002/

Discussion of Present Effect of 1872 Mining Law:

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/08/will-this-court-case-end-the-mining-industrys-150-year-dominance-of-the-west/?fbclid=IwAR1-swR0NZXqN2i5lXDuzokhrvzWWr-BUwBVPKjObm74SgYCegIhYX7FyuA

Examples of Federal Government Mistreatment of Sensitive Sites:

https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2018/12/04/opponents-to-rally-in-nm-over-sale-of-public-lands-for-drilling/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51449739

Battle of Floridas War Memorial Placed in Virginia, not in New Mexico:

https://www.legion.org/memorials/238029/corporal-clinton-greaves-memorial-historical-marker

David Tognoni mining without permission then appealing judgement when caught:

https://www.ntc.blm.gov/krc/uploads/205/138IBLA308%20TOGNONI%20GRAVEL%20DEPOSITS%203-6-1997.pdf

http://www.edgewiseblog.com/mjh/theirs/more-about-the-history-around-the-monticello-box/

David Tognoni Speaks at Public Meeting in Deming:

https://www.demingheadlight.com/story/news/2017/06/01/friends-meeting-not-so-friendly-regarding-florida-mining-plan/102385406/

Notable Predecessor:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Ferlini

Examples of Small Towns With Big Metal Industries (albeit non-Magnesium):

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/aug/12/environment.pollution

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henderson,_Nevada#History

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PEPCON_disaster

12,000 WWII bombardier cadets trained at Deming airfield

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deming_Municipal_Airport#World_War_II