This letter in response to your recent article on The Commonwealth Project in Pearce, Ariz.
In regard to the concern that Commonwealth Silver and Gold Mining, Inc. is a Canadian entity, please let me introduce myself as one of the founders of the company. My name is Hall Stewart. I moved to Tucson as a child from Bowman, ND in 1964. I have lived most of my life in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and the Sierra Madre of Chihuahua, Mexico. I graduated from The University of Arizona in 1983 and was recognized with the Evans B. Mayo award, 1983 as the University’s top undergraduate field geologist while attending field camp here in Cochise County. I have hiked and camped extensively in the Chiricahuas, Dragoons, Santa Ritas, Rincons and Santa Catalina mountains. I’m not Canadian, I’m a southwestern good ol’ boy.
- Hall Stewart was brought into this company by Michael Farrant, Founder, President and CEO of Commonwealth Silver (a Canadian mining company) for the sake of making themselves look less like outsiders in the eyes of the people of Arizona.
- Hall Stewart has a personal stake in the Commonwealth Mine that is worth “millions of dollars”, and he is willing to serve his Canadian masters at the expense of poisoning our water and destroying our environment.
- Note that Mr. Stewart did not mention the words “open-pit” or “cyanide” anywhere in this article. However, in his previous statements to the Wilcox Range News, “the company proposes a 100 meter deep open-pit cyanide-leach silver-gold operation.” http://www.willcoxrangenews.com/news/article_82599ba6-cfe6-11e3-ac63-001a4bcf887a.html Very interesting, and important to note, that Mr. Stewart omitted these details in this article.
- The only thing that is factual in this first paragraph is that Hall Stewart is a “good ol’ boy“. And as we all know by now, the good ol’ boy approach to protecting our water and lands are not acceptable.
I was introduced to the Commonwealth mine by my economic geology professor, John Guilbert, in 1982. I worked on a drill program at the Commonwealth Project for Glamis Gold Corp in 1991. In 2009 I was informed that the Commonwealth Project was inactive and could be bought or optioned from the owners. With two partners I organized Commonwealth Silver and Gold Mining, Inc. in 2010. We organized the company in Canada because Canada has a regulatory system that oversees mineral exploration companies and Canadian investors are accustomed to taking the high risks associated with finding an economic mineral deposit. If the majority ownership of the company is Canadian it is because there are few John Waynes left in this country that have the cojones to invest the time, effort and money required to make discoveries and develop them to the benefit of the communities where they are found.
- Hall Stewart claims to have organized Commonwealth Silver and Gold Mining, Inc. in 2010. As previously stated, the company was founded by Michael Farrant, Founder, President and CEO of Commonwealth Silver (a Canadian mining company) and Hall Stewart was brought in to represent the company as an all American “good ol’ boy” venture. To add insult to injury, this Canadian organization has “proudly” raised an American flag on the mines peak, since we have called them out as Canadians.
- Commonwealth Silver was organized in Canada because they ARE A CANADIAN MINING COMPANY.
- Canada has a long history of a dysfunctional mining regulatory system that turns a blind eye to environmental and human rights abuses for the sole sake of profit.
- Canadian mining companies are notorious for ravaging water and lands and leaving the locals to deal with the costly clean up, health problems, and land that is wasted for generations to come. Canadian mining companies are also well-known for corruption, murder, and rape.
- Hall Stewart’s statement of “there being few John Wayne’s left in America” is insulting to all of us as Americans – and especially to our veterans who are John Waynes’ everyday. How dare Hall Stewart say such a thing…. Are we, the people of Arizona, lacking the “cojones” as Stewart says “to invest the time, effort and money required to make discoveries and develop them to the benefit of the communities where they are found“? No we are not! Open-pit cyanide mining does not resonate “investing the time, effort and money required to make discoveries and develop them to the benefit of the communities where they are found“. How does open-pit cyanide mining in Pearce benefit anyone other than the mining companies, their investors, and Hall Stewart himself?
The millions of dollars we have brought in from foreign investors and the many millions more we plan to bring in are to the benefit of the local community. The company has and will continue to have a preference for hiring locally. We have extensively used local contractors wherever possible including Apache Ace Hardware, A&M Pro Contractors, Frei Trucking and Darling Environmental and Surveying.
- The millions of dollars Hall Stewart claims to have brought in from “foreign investors” and the many millions more they plan to bring in DO NOT benefit the local community. There is no benefit in non-sustainable jobs, that result in poisoning our decreasing water supply with cyanide and damaging our land for decades to come.
- Hall Stewart claims that company has and will continue to have a preference for hiring locally. First of all, they are not hiring anyone as the photo below clearly shows.
- Hall Stewart also claims to have extensively used local contractors wherever possible including, Apache Ace Hardware. Go ahead and talk with our friends at Apache Ace Hardware in Pearce, Arizona and ask them about how the Commonwealth Mine has benefited their business….
Cooperation with our neighbors in both Canada and Mexico is the path to a prosperous future for the U.S.A. This is especially true when money is brought in from outside and spent here.
- Economic history proves time and time again, that “cooperation” with our neighbors in both Canada and Mexico leads to lower paying jobs for the American people, and the only people who benefit are the government, large corporations, and their investors.
- Who does Hall Stewart think he is to tell us what creates a path to a prosperous future for the USA? Is he Bill Gates? Warren Buffett? And where did Hall Stewart study economics??? His propaganda sounds a lot like that of the Bush Administration that put us all in the economic mess we are in now.
History of community service
The Pearce Elementary school was built on land leased to the school by the Commonwealth Mining and Milling Company in 1914. Much of the funding for the original school construction came from the mining company. Our company has continued to support the school donating $5,000 worth of chairs to the school gymnasium.
- The Pearce Elementary School may have been built on land leased to the school by the Commonwealth Mining and Milling Company in 1914. This statement has nothing to do with Hall Stewart and his Canadian mining cronies of Commonwealth Silver.
- Much of the funding for the original school construction came from the Commonwealth Mining and Milling Company in 1914, which has no relation to Commonwealth Silver of Canada. How dare Hall Stewart, treat the people of Pearce as idiots by trying to make it sound as if the Canadian company he’s working for did such things for our community.
- Hall Stewart claims that “his” company has continued to support the Pearce Elementary School by “donating $5,000 worth of chairs to the school gymnasium“. Even if this is so…. Why aren’t they doing anything to resolve the high arsenic levels that have made the school’s drinking water undrinkable? If you are currently familiar with the Pearce Elementary School, you KNOW that excessive arsenic levels in the school’s drinking water were not the issue they are now that Commonwealth Silver has restarted operations at the Commonwealth Mine.
In projects I have previously managed, the exploration companies have been very involved with the communities nearby. In Ocampo Chihuahua the mining company paid to bring the electrical grid into the remote mountain community. This company also donated a four-year scholarship to the Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua to one of the local high school seniors. This young man completed a degree in biology and is now the Manager of Environmental Affairs for the mine. Who could be a better steward of the local environment than a man raised in those hills? Another company brought the electrical grid to Palmarejo, Chihuahua. These towns previously had no electricity. In Tahuehueto, Durango the area we worked had a tiny village of about 20 houses, none of which had indoor toilets. The company bought and installed 20 toilets to the appreciation of the local residents, especially the women. In Motaje, Nayarit the company I managed built a pedestrian bridge over an arroyo in the middle of the town that was impassable during the rainy months.
- Hall Stewart claims that in projects he has “previously managed, the exploration companies have been very involved with the communities nearby“. The fact that very few people in Pearce are even aware of the Commonwealth Mine project being a Canadian operation quickly discredits Stewart’s claim. Furthermore, no one in Pearce has ever heard the name Hall Stewart or Michael Farrant. So much for being “very” involved with our community. If anything, Hall Stewart and Commonwealth Silver are avoiding us at all costs, because they know that the majority of us are not in favor of the long-term environmental damage they want to do to our community.
- As per Hall Stewart, “In Ocampo Chihuahua the mining company paid to bring the electrical grid into the remote mountain community“. Let’s be honest here, the mining company did this for themselves. Please don’t play the hero with us Mr. Stewart… Exxon could also say that they have done many great things for the people of Alaska. Open-pit cyanide mining in our community, and right next to our elementary school, isn’t that far off from any comparison of Hall Stewart and his Canadian company with Exxon and the extensive health and environmental problems they have caused Alaska and others worldwide.
- According to Hall Stewart, his Canadian company also donated a four-year scholarship to “one” local high school senior. Very interesting to note that this young man with little experience is now the Manager of Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth Mine.
- Hall Stewart also is proud to boast that, “In Tahuehueto, Durango the area we worked had a tiny village of about 20 houses, none of which had indoor toilets. The company bought and installed 20 toilets to the appreciation of the local residents, especially the women“. What? Please don’t tell us about how you’re helping our communities and pleasing our “women folk” with your great deeds…. This is insulting to all of us!
Barren and low plant diversity
I made a comment to the Willcox Range News that has drawn considerable criticism and for this I apologize. However, I would like to clarify that the saline soils associated with the Willcox Playa and the arid conditions of the Sulphur Springs Valley do support my comment. Arizona is the state with the second highest plant diversity of any of the 50 states. I studied arid lands plants in high school and at the University of Arizona. When compared with the very high plant diversity of the saguaro-paloverde vegetation community of the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, the Chihuahuan desertscrub/semi-desert grassland of the Sulphur Springs Valley is indeed a low diversity area. It is not without appreciation for the stark beauty of the area that I made my comment.
- First of all, the people of Pearce do not care about Hall Stewart’s empty apologies. Hall Stewart’s comment to the Willcox Range News that has drawn considerable criticism deserves it.
- Stewart is correct in stating that Arizona has the second highest plant diversity of any of the 50 states. However, his newest statement, of “When compared with the very high plant diversity of the saguaro-paloverde vegetation community of the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, the Chihuahuan desertscrub/semi-desert grassland of the Sulphur Springs Valley is indeed a low diversity area.” is a complete political spin job by Mr. Stewart for his company and his own financial interests. Cochise county has numerous plants and animals that are already threatened or endangered.
The precise numbers for water use and water source areas will be included in Commonwealth Silver’s pre-feasibility study and Aquifer Protection Permit Application. I do want to address our current plans in general terms. Our current technical report or Preliminary Economic Assessment scopes the water-flow rate of the proposed processing plant at 3,000 gallons per minute. The majority of this water will re-circulate indefinitely. A small portion of the water, estimated at 15 to 20 percent of the total, may be lost to evaporation. We are currently planning on pumping 600 gallons per minute from groundwater in the Douglas basin south of Pearce. This rate of water use is comparable to the annual water required for about 200 acres of alfalfa. This compares well with the water use rates of our neighbors in the agricultural community. Our proposed source area in the Douglas Basin is well away from current water users and we expect that the planned hydrological study will show that our pumping for process water will have little or no impact on the area.
- Note that Hall Stewart does not want to address his companies current plans that concern our water in this article. This is a standard Canadian mining company tactic, don’t discuss the truth, and when you do sugar coat it so the local communities won’t know what hit them until it’s too late.
- Per Hall Stewart, “Our current technical report or Preliminary Economic Assessment scopes the water-flow rate of the proposed processing plant at 3,000 gallons per minute“. If you’re a long time resident of the Pearce area, you know that we are already struggling for water and this will only worsen with this year’s historically dry weather. We cannot afford to share our limited water supply with a Canadian mining company. Would we share our limited water with a Chinese or Mexican company? The answer is a resounding NO!!! So why should we allow Commonwealth Silver to waste our water in the pursuit of riches for themselves and their Canadian investors?
- Note that 20 percent of water lost to “evaporation” is no small number. What if we lost 20% of our water today due to “evaporation” and the remainder was poisoned with mining chemicals such as cyanide? How does this benefit our community Mr. Stewart? We, and others in our community, welcome any “honest” and open communication with you and your Canadian company.
- Hall Stewart comparing their “proposed” water use with our neighbors in the agricultural community is unfair. Since this water for our agricultural community produces goods for our farms and ranches. Hall Stewart and Commonwealth Silver on the other hand, wants to use our limited water supply solely for their own personal financial gain.This is unacceptable to the people of Pearce, and we will not quietly stand by while the Commonwealth Mine project lays our water and land to waste.
- Mr. Stewart’s proposed water source area is in the “Douglas Basin area”, (click to see that this OUR water), this does not make his company’s plan for a 100 meter deep open-pit cyanide-leach silver-gold operation in our community acceptable. We do not want our water and land poisoned.
- All Canadian mining companies state the usual, and intentional lies of their operations having “little or no impact on the area“. Please define for us Mr. Stewart, how you would use the words, “little or no impact” along with “open-pit cyanide mine” in a sentence. You are welcome to comment on this post.
Silver as a “Green” metal
The mine will produce both silver and gold. Gold is used primarily as a hedge against currency devaluation. Silver is a high tech metal used in many of the products of the future that will help lessen man’s inevitable environmental impact. Silver is the principal component of photovoltaic solar panels. Once manufactured, these panels generate electricity for more than 20 years without further investment or operating cost. Arizona is an ideal place for solar electrical generation. Silver is bacteriostatic, that is bacteria cannot reproduce in the presence of silver. Silver is used in all modern drinking-water filters to prevent bacterial growth. Silver is also used in electronics, high-tech mirrors, specialized garments, medicines, etc. Once produced, much silver can be re-cycled indefinitely.
- The economic lesson provided by Hall Stewart, “Gold is used primarily as a hedge against currency devaluation“, is insulting to us as members of the community, and further demonstrates that he and his Canadian mining “partners” believe that we are “weak little men”, and our “women folk” are a bunch of stupid hicks desperately seeking the comfort of a toilet…. Show some respect Mr. Stewart. You are as crass as the Canadian mining company that you serve.
- “Silver is a high tech metal used in many of the products of the future that will help lessen man’s inevitable environmental impact“. Where did Hall Stewart come up with this line? Is he not aware of new materials that are being developed by great minds such as those at MIT? Which Stewart’s Canadian friends may better recognize as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- As for silver being used for solar panels, Mr. Stewart is simply using this topic to distract us from the fact of his company plans to develop a 100 meter deep open-pit cyanide mine that will poison our water and harm our environment….
- According to Mr. Stewart, “Silver is used in all modern drinking-water filters to prevent bacterial growth“. Can his company do anything to protect our water from the cyanide and arsenic they plan on poisoning us with? The Pearce Elementary School could use help with their arsenic problem… So, how can you help our community Mr. Stewart? Short-term jobs at the expense of our environment isn’t going to cut it.
Mining projects are long term projects that provide high-tech jobs. I invite young people in the community to consider preparing for jobs as geologists, mining engineers, surveyors, machine operators, metallurgists, accountants, human resources professionals, drillers, blasters, truck drivers, crusher operators, environmental technicians, computer scientists and others. Many rural communities like the idea of their youth being able to find well-paid work close to home. Wouldn’t it be great if, like at Ocampo, the Manager of Environmental Affairs was a local resident with roots in the community?
- One of our supporters against the Commonwealth Mine has spent over a decade working with leading high-tech companies, including Microsoft and Google and even she doesn’t understand how Hall Stewart and his Canadian mining company are going to produce “high-tech jobs”. Apparently Mr. Stewart doesn’t understand what a high-tech job is, or what his Canadian company is offering. What mining really offers are “basic industry jobs”, not high-tech jobs – and as rule they are for a very short-term – Boom and Bust. Below is the sign, at the main entrance of the Commonwealth Mine, which clearly shows the type of jobs the Commonwealth Mine is pretending to offer, note on the top right of the sign “Basic Industry Jobs”.
And again, here is the “REAL DEAL” sign of what they are offering our community….
- It is funny that Hall Stewart “invites” young people in our community “to consider preparing for jobs as geologists, mining engineers, surveyors, machine operators“, etc. since his company has no intention of hiring any of us, due to the fact that they want to keep our community in the dark as to what they’re doing at the mine. If you question this statement, go on over to the mine and ask them about the opportunities they have to offer for our “young people”. Or better yet,call Mr. Stewart’s Tucson office and ask about their current employment opportunities at 520-790-1914.
- Hall Stewart said, “Wouldn’t it be great if, like at Ocampo, the Manager of Environmental Affairs was a local resident with roots in the community?“. Yes, Mr. Stewart that would truly be great, since if he was, he wouldn’t be working for you and your Canadian mining company. Would this young man work to develop a 100 meter deep open-pit cyanide mine in his home town? That’s right…. He wouldn’t.
It is my sincere hope that the community will continue to be supportive of our project and will welcome the economic diversification the mine will bring to the Sulphur Springs Valley. I have a very positive outlook for the future and welcome the community to share in it.
- Of course it is Hall Stewart’s sincere hope that our community will be supportive of the Commonwealth Mine project, since he will personally make millions of dollars at the expense of our water and land if we all sit by and allow it.
- Deep open-pit cyanide mines do provide economic diversification that is very short-lived – and result in high costs for our community to clean up after our land is poisoned and left in destruction.
- Hall Stewart does have a positive outlook for the future of the Commonwealth Mine project and he will tell whatever lies it takes to fool our community into sharing his vision. Don’t be a fool. Stand up and speak out, before the damage is done…
Original article source: http://www.willcoxrangenews.com/opinion/editorials/article_d1a82aae-e5fa-11e3-a973-001a4bcf887a.html
More mining information our government and the Canadian mining companies don’t want you to know provided by MIT’s Mission 2016.
Environmental Risks of Mining
Human Rights Violations
Lack of Regulation
Cost of Inaction
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