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Proposed Oregon Nickel Mine Fails To Secure First Permit

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A controversial nickel mining project in a roadless area of Southwestern Oregon has failed to clear an early hurdle. The state has denied a UK-based company permission to use water from a small creek.

It’s difficult to use water when there’s no water flowing. Or so discovered Red Flat Nickel Corporation when the State of Oregon denied its application to use water for five years.

The company wants to siphon off 10 gallons of per minute to cool their drilling rig while it extracts dozens of samples. But the application raised questions whether there was enough water for the project, says Raquel Rancier of the Oregon Water Resources Department.

“We determined it was important for us to go to the site to determine whether or not water was available.”

Staff hiked in and found the unnamed creek, and water flow that was a mere trickle flowing at less than 1 gallon per minute. Pair this discovery with water quality concerns and the state denied the application.

Rancier says the permit prompted about 3,000 public comments -- far more than their Department usually receives. Red Flat Nickel Corporation did not respond to a request for comment. The company has 60 days to appeal the State’s ruling.