At a gathering in the Town Park on Sept. 14, five South32 personnel, including Hermosa Project President Pat Risner, presented a proposal for an exploratory drilling project at the historical Flux Mine. The drilling, which will take place about a mile above the Flux Canyon residential area, will shortly pass through the Forest Service’s Schedule of Proposed Actions process, putting it online for public comment for 30 days before issuing a determination. 

The company explained that the project would involve six or seven drill pad sites, each with a short access road. One drill rig would operate at a time and would be shifted from pad to pad as the project progressed. The presenters said that, despite the 24/7 operation, disruption would be minimized, lighting would be shielded, the smaller drill rig they would use would be quieter than the larger ones of the Hermosa Project, and the traffic of drill rigs, earthmoving equipment, and workers would be minimal.

There were many questions about the road, such as whether there would be tree pruning, grading or widening, and questions about the company’s routing plans. South32 confirmed that the Flux Canyon route and the “cross-creek connector” route around the town, were the company’s currently preferred exit routes for hauling ore concentrate to SR82, and other mine traffic, stressing that there was a lot of planning to do and that any road construction “would be years off.” 

When asked whether the company would be returning to public use the mile of Flux-to-Harshaw Road connection closed by the Hermosa Project several years ago, the company replied that running a public road through a mine site would be too dangerous.

Asked if the company had a long-term plan for mine closure and remediation, President Risner replied that those would be built into their planning. 

Realtor and resident Jean Miller commented that the company’s presence and plans are not only stressful personally to the Flux Canyon residents, it causes “transaction paralysis,” with buyers hesitant about pending industrialization, and sellers now having to disclose the ownership and possible projects of South32 in their area.

“Is this the beginning of a drawn-out evacuation?” another owner asked.