More profit, less pollution

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board February 20, 2012 09:55 am

The record-high price for gold seems to be having an effect on Baker County.

Within the past few weeks, a Nevada firm has expressed interest in reprocessing dredge tailings in Sumpter Valley.

And a Canadian company announced it had bought the historic Bonanza Mine near Whitney.

Mining operations are ongoing along near Bridgeport, and at Connor Creek near Brownlee Reservoir.

Whether these developments burgeon into a full-fledged gold rush isn't clear.

That prospect, of course, has spurred conversation about the possible economic boon for the area. But we're also intrigued by potential for environmental benefits.

Modern mining techniques not only are vastly more efficient at gleaning gold than those of old, they can be less harmful to the land.

It's even conceivable that, while recovering the riches that their forebears left behind, today's miners will also clean up some of the toxic messes that are the less-publicized, but very real, legacy of that bygone era.