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A mining company's plans for exploratory drilling

A mining company's plans for exploratory drilling

The Oregon Water Resources Department dealt a setback Monday to a mining company's plans for exploratory drilling near the headwaters of one of the country's most pristine river systems.

Red Flat Nickel Corporation submitted an application June 5 for a license to withdraw surface water for drilling in the watershed of the North Fork Smith River, a stream that crosses from southwest Oregon into California and joins a mainstem best known for its emerald color as it rolls through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

The application was denied following an investigation by OWRD, which determined the water usage would "impair and be detrimental to public interest," said senior policy coordinator Racquel Rancier.

Red Flat, which didn't return calls or emails seeking comment, has sought to conduct exploratory drilling to determine the feasibility of setting up a nickel mine at its 3,000-acre Cleopatra claim site just north of the Oregon and California border. The company is also seeking cobalt, chromium and scandium.

The proposed mine has become a white-hot issue in southwest Oregon and northern California, especially in Crescent City, Calif., which gets its drinking water from the Smith River and relies on the river for its recreation-based economy.

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