NYCO hopes to swap “Forever Wild” land with NY state

A wall of Wollastonite, the gray colored exposed mineral, can be seen immediately adjacent to state owned Lot 8.

A wall of Wollastonite, the gray colored exposed mineral, can be seen immediately adjacent to state owned Lot 8. Photo by Shawn Ryan.

— As part of the deal, when NYCO has mined all the Wollastonite from the 200 acres, they will “reclaim” the land, filling it in and placing topsoil, then seeding the ground. They will then turn the 200 acres back over to the state, along with the 1,500 from the land swap.

Several acres of land on the NYCO mine land have already been reclaimed and are indistinguishable from the untouched land around it.

“The time to do it, if we want to have access to Lot 8, is now,” said Mark Buckley, Environmental Health and Safety Officer with NYCO. “There may be a million tons there.”

Buckley said that while the pit they are currently mining holds about 10 years of reserves, their buyers like to see 20 years worth of reserves in order to consider a mine viable. Without the extra 10 years of reserves, NYCO could face problems in years to come finding buyers for their product.

NYCO is mounting a media campaign in order to get their message out to the voters. The measure, which will be on the ballot as Proposition 5, will be voted on in the upcoming elections on Nov 5.

Along with bipartisan support in the state legislature for two consecutive years, numerous other agencies have come out in favor of the land swap.

In a press release, William Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council said, “The proposed land swap now exceeds our standard for supporting Constitutional Amendments involving the Forever Wild clause.”

According to the Council, the 1,500 acres the state would receive comprise better habitat for fish and wildlife, three miles of streams and has considerably more ecological value than the 200 acres which would be given up.

The measure is also being supported by the United Steelworkers, the AFL-CIO, the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, and local and state politicians including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

NYCO employs more than 100 people in their mining operations. In several instances employees have been working in the mines for generations.

Wollastonite is used in paint, plastics used in the automobile industry, brake pads and linings, ceramics, construction materials and many more applications. There are only two Wollastonite mines currently operating in the United States.

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