Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Feast and support recycling

—Paul Barbeau

The Placitas Recycling Association (PRA) and the Range Café are partnering for their second annual fundraiser to help support local recycling. On November 5, the Range will host a fundraiser on behalf of the PRA. Range diners will be able to obtain a ticket from a PRA volunteer at the restaurant from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and the Range will donate twenty percent of their bill to help support the PRA. The Range is located at 925 Camino Del Pueblo in downtown Bernalillo.

Thanks to the efforts of local residents and over two hundred volunteers, the PRA recycled over twenty tons of materials last year, and the New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) designated the PRA as the 2012 Community Recycler of the Year. The PRA is a self-supporting, all-volunteer organization, and the proceeds from the sale of recyclable materials, donations and fundraisers are used to maintain the yard and equipment at the Placitas Recycling Center on Hwy 165.

Like many organizations, the PRA is experiencing a classic economic “squeeze” as a result of increasing operational expenses and decreasing revenue as the world price for recyclable materials has declined significantly.

You can help support the PRA in a variety of ways: by dropping off recyclable materials on Saturday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (a current list of recyclable materials is available at the Center and at the PRA website (; by making a tax-deductible donation; by purchasing a PRA vehicle license plate at the Recycling Center (ten dollars each or two for $15 dollars); by utilizing the Goodsearch/Goodshopping/Gooddining options sponsored by Yahoo at;  or by volunteering to work on a Saturday or two during the year (or to help out at the Center during the week).

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Max Pruneda at 877-7745 or

Selling a gold mine to Santa Fe

— Marc Choyt

In June, Santa Fe Gold announced plans to open a gold mine thirty miles south of Santa Fe [twelve miles east of Placitas] in the Ortiz Mountains, near Golden. They sent out thousands of glossy brochures to citizens with the headline: “Continuing a Legacy, Setting a New Standard for Mining.”

The proposed mine borders the Santa Fe Botanical Reserve, a bioregion with 285 vertebrate species including seven species of bats, bull snake, whiptails, coach whip, cougar, deer, and fox. Among the eighty types of birds, you can find rock wren, greater roadrunner, scrub jay, and vesper sparrow.

The mine will create a crater over a thousand feet deep, tailings five stories high, and a gash across the viewscape nearly a mile wide. Yet, we are told in the brochure that this operation will be done by people who value the ecology of the bioregion.

In a places where being “from here” means four hundred years of roots, Santa Fe Gold pitches itself as a local firm, despite plans to merge with International Goldfields Ltd, an Australian company with mines in Brazil, Australia, and West Africa. With multinational mining giants, the real mineral wealth is always exported from local economies to shareholders far, far away from the destructive extractive activity.

Santa Fe Gold’s marketing reframes the history of mining by destroying a mountain where stories live in rocks, trees, and loping coyotes. The area is actively used by Pueblo people, as it has been for a thousand years. Numerous archaeological sites have been documented, including petroglyphs, and field houses from the San Cristobal people.

These Native People have their own version of mining’s “legacy.” A Pueblo elder told me how his great grandmother died enslaved in a mine around the Ortiz.

Around 180 old mines are scattered around the surrounding mountains, and the mercury contamination resulting from these old mines has not been documented. Water is life in New Mexico. The Ortiz mine would need over two hundred acre-feet a year while we are in the midst of the worst drought in one hundred years. The mine would use at least seventy million gallons a year. The well in the bordering village of Madrid, which flows from the Ortiz, is dropping 15 feet a year and may have less than ten years of production left. The community consensus is that poor water quality and lack of water is due to past mining operations.

Though Santa Fe Gold proposes to extract gold without chemicals, there are also plans to extract 2.7 million pounds of copper from the ore. Governor Martinez’s Administration has rewritten the copper rules to exempt some groundwater from the standards established by the New Mexico Water Quality Act. Waste rock piles containing sulfuric acid, arsenic, and mercury from any new copper mining could, under the new proposal, legally leach into groundwater.

The proposed Ortiz mine is located on the Turquoise Trail, one of New Mexico’s few National Scenic Byways that runs through an area heavily dependent upon tourism, yet rich in mineral deposits. Approval could set a dangerous precedent, transforming this exquisite high desert bioregion into a mining sacrifice zone, completely contrary to Santa Fe County’s Sustainable Growth Management Plan.

I have never seen a mining company’s marketing document that so strongly undermines their credibility with such culturally insensitive and Orwellian language. In this regard, Santa Fe Gold’s (soon to be International Gold Field’s) claim to be “setting a new standard” may be entirely correct.

This post can be read in its entirety at

Marc Choyt is President of Reflective Images, an ethical jewelry company that selling unique and unusual wedding  and engagement rings online and conflict free diamonds, fair trade gold wedding and engagement rings and  Celtic wedding rings. He can be reached at
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