Mining companies want to explore trust properties

District Attorney Brian Kunzi was squeamish last week about releasing county treasurer’s trust properties for exploration by mining exploration companies.

County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman told county staff to confirm the location of the trust deed properties and the potential cost of the county paying back taxes to acquire them.

Former Nevada Division of Minerals Administrator Alan Coyner, now president of Trident Exploration, asked Nye County Commissioners to transfer tax-forfeited, treasurer’s trust properties to actual county ownership which would allow his company to apply for a six-month prospecting permit.

Coyner said Nye County differs from other counties, in first transferring land from the treasurer’s trust to the county before they can begin exploration, naming Eureka, Elko and Pershing counties as examples. “After consulting with several counties, it is our understanding these properties go directly from treasurer’s trust to the new owner,” Coyner said in a March 4 letter.

In his presentation to commissioners, Coyner said Trident Exploration would like to explore on five of 22 properties forfeited for non-payment of taxes. He said hopefully they could make a discovery, spend money in the county and put people to work.

Coyner said Trident completed a transaction with Lyon County for two parcels and are on the Elko County Commission agenda to buy another parcel. He wants to be able to apply for a mining exploration permit the first year a property goes to tax forfeit.

Coyner stated other advantages to a mining company acquiring these properties rather than the county.

“One of the things the county needs to be aware of when it takes patents of these forfeited, abandoned, mining properties, there’s liabilities. As you know there are many abandoned mines in this state, there have been many people killed and injured,” Coyner said. “There’s also environmental problems as well for old chemicals, old tailing piles and so forth that I’m sure the county would not want to put them in the chain of title.”

Not so fast, Kunzi said, noting Nevada Revised Statute 517 says patented mining claims don’t become county property until they have gone through the entire process of delinquencies and taken off the tax rolls.

“Trust property is not property of a county, if some other district attorney is interpreting that they can do that,” Kunzi said. “Some of these claims are under the town of Tonopah for example, if you really want to have companies come in and start exploring under the town of Tonopah.”

If Nye County takes possession of the mining claims, it has control over them, the DA said. He added there’s other people who might be interested in leases if they were put up to bid. But Kunzi warned the county would have to pay back taxes to acquire title, as there wouldn’t be any of the usual exemptions.

Real estate broker Trish Rippie said Corvus Gold wants to explore claims north of the old Barrick Bullfrog Mine.

Corvus Gold submitted a plan of development last year to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to explore 93 acres out of 1,900 acres of disturbed land for their North Bullfrog Mine project. They hope to begin mining on privately-owned land in the Mayflower deposit this year.

Rippie said Corvus Gold wants to explore the Gold Coin No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 claims.

“They have already drilled all around that area. They know there is no mineral value there but because they are going to be putting a mine there they want to have control of all the claims around them,” Rippie said.

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