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Reassured by Mine

On February 3, I participated, with a big group, in the two-hour South32 Hermosa mine tour up Harshaw Rd. I came away informed, educated, even reassured, though I am pro mining.

The tour began at South32’s Patagonia office with a very thorough, informative video presentation. We learned that within the Hermosa mine resides the largest undeveloped zinc deposit in the world. Additionally, the critical mineral manganese is battery grade from the ground (needs no processing), and has not been produced in the U. S. since the ’70s. All mining will be conducted underground. NO OPEN PIT! Tailings will be raised to the surface, deposited in an already constructed, membrane-lined, “dry stack” tailings enclosure. Dry stacking eliminates tailings ponds.

After the presentation, our group was transported in vans up to the mine site. I was impressed by the relatively small footprint the operation encompasses. One could hike across the entire area in a matter of minutes.

Mine boundaries were pointed out, as was the upper, gated limit of public access on Flux Canyon Road. Sadly, not much chance to return access to Harshaw Road, though that has been discussed.

I urge all concerned to partake in the free tour and become informed. I think you shall feel better knowing South32 is conducting a safe operation, one committed to being as environmentally aware as possible.

Chris Gore


Mearn’s Quail

Just a quick note on the article on the local Montezuma or Mearn’s quail. Several studies, going back 40 years, show that this quail digs for its food, taking bulb and root nodules. Insects are only detected as a trace in the diet of the quail. 

The bulk of the diet of this quail includes phaseolus, native tepary beans, cyperus, or nutsedge and oxalis, wood sorrel. These plants grow only briefly above ground during the green monsoons and then wither away along the stream, swales and seasonally wet places. However, somehow the quail know where to dig to find the underground plant parts they prefer. Unique among quail, they have large claws well adapted to dig. 

Mark Stromberg


Kudos for Harold

Excellent “Starstruck” colum in the January issue. I always read the PRT from cover to cover, sometimes it takes me a while. Harold Meckler’s Starstruck column is always interesting, even to someone not astronomy techy. I particularly enjoyed his January column. And I completely agree with its message. 

Karen Riggs