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Switchstand in yards at East Ely

East Ely yards, 20 June 1999
Copyright © 2000 Keith Albrandt


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Quadra mining plans

12 June 2004


Quadra Mining Ltd. of Canada plans to reopen the Robinson copper mine and mill near Ruth, Nevada by October 2004 to take advantage of the 50 percent increase in the price of the metal occuring over the past year. Copper price increases have resulted from production disruptions at the world's two largest mines, in Chile and Indonesia, and surging demand in China.

Reported in the Arizona Republic, 12 June 2004

BHP announces sale of Ruth mine: deal set for February

09 December 2003


Quadra Mining has agreed to pay $18 million for the idle Robinson copper and gold mine near Ely and plans to return the mine to full production, the privately owned Australian company said in a statement Thursday.

That could bring 300 to 400 high-paying jobs to a town still stinging from the announcement that it will lose its J.C. Penney store next year, a Nevada mining industry expert said.

"While that (sale) has been rumored, it's great news," Alan Coyner, administrator of the Nevada Division of Minerals, said from Spokane, Wash., where he was attending the Northwest Mining Conference.

"The nice thing about reopening that project is that it's very labor-intensive. It's got a mill associated with it that requires a lot of workers. It's a rather large mine."

Quadra would acquire the Robinson mine as part of a $91 million deal with BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company. Quadra would also acquire BHP's 34 percent share in the Highland Valley mine in British Columbia, Canada's largest copper producer.

The company plans to fund the acquisition through a share sale early next year. BHP said it expects to complete the sale to Quadra in February.

Some local Ely businesses have expressed that the positive news is great to hear. "It's the first time since BHP closed that good [news] is spreading around town," one Ely businessman told the Times.

Ely Mayor Bob Miller told the Times that this is very positive news but feels we should continue to work on diversifying the community's economy.

"It's a very positive thing for the community." Miller told the Times. Miller added, "We need to concentrate local efforts to diversify our local economy. We welcome the opening of the mine, but we must realize that world copper and gold prices are not under our control and therefore the length of time the mine may be open re realize is temporary. We have a tremendous housing problem to deal with immediately, so the city needs to be proactive and flexible with existing policies to help solve this problem. This includes working in harmony with developers that will surface with this housing need. We are excited and look forward to working with Quadra Mining and its future plans for the Robinson Mining District. There are other potential developments on the horizon and we must make sure that we all work together."

Karen Rajala, director of the White Pine County Economic Diversification was delighted about the news, but also plans to continue efforts for economic diversification. "We're very happy about the news and happy to see the mine potentially going back into operation. We plan to continue our efforts toward economic diversification and we'll also offer any assistants we can do to both BHP and Quadra during the transition," Rajala said.

BHP Nevada Mining Co. suspended operations at Robinson in 1999 because of low metal prices, laying off 440 workers and sending Ely's economy into a tailspin from which it has yet to recover.

Coyner said the Robinson mine, which has changed ownership several times since it was first operated by Kennicott, was not a good match for BHP, but came along with BHP's purchase of Magma Mining.

"It (BHP) was a large company with a lot of overhead. It needed big production," he said. "Now a smaller company with a different set of goals of profits for shareholders. ... Ely is desperate for any kind of development, so this will be very positive news."

Each new job at the mine would create another three to four jobs indirectly and generate new tax revenue, Coyner said.

The Robinson mine produced 61.8 million pounds of copper concentrate in 1999, along with 26,250 ounces of gold and 153,104 ounces of silver, according to the Division of Minerals.

A BHP spokeswoman told Reuters the sale was part of the company's ongoing portfolio management.

"Our criteria is for world-class assets, and that means they have to be low-cost and long life, essentially," she said.

Copper prices have rebounded considerably since that time to about 90 cents to 95 cents a pound, Coyner said. The magic number in the industry is $1 in terms of opening new mines, he said.

Nearly 9,000 people were employed in Nevada's mineral industry in 2002 at an average salary of $61,578.

Ely Times Publisher Ken Kliewer and Bloomberg News contributed to this report

Reprinted with permission of the Ely Times Online, 09 December 2003.

Power plant to be built here

14 February 2004


White Pine Energy Associates, LLC, has announced its plan to develop the White Pine Energy Station (WPES), a coal-fired power plant in White Pine County.

Construction of the proposed facility is targeted to begin in 2006, according to a press release received just before presstime yesterday.

Construction would last about four years and require an average of about 600 skilled workers. The total capital cost of the facility is estimated to be in the range of $600 million to $1 billion. And the plant could be operating as early as 2010.

The company estimates the facility, once it is operating would create about 100 permanent, highly skilled jobs.

White Pine County was selected after a region-wide search was conducted to identify suitable locations, said WPES spokesman Lawrence Willick.

"White Pine County has been selected due to the progressive attitude of the community, the availability of water for cooling purposes, the existing high-voltage electric lines in the area with the potential for additional high-voltage lines, and the plans for the City of Ely to own and operate the Nevada Northern Railroad," Willick explained in the press release.

The White Pine Energy Station will be located in proximity to the Nevada Northern Railroad.

The exact location of the facility has not been determined, but will be identified later in the development of the facility.

Power generated by the facility would be sold to wholesale electric customers like utilities, cooperatives and municipalities. The size of the generation facility will be driven by market demands. The initial size range is estimated to be between 500 MW and 800 MW, with provisions for expansion to a total size of 1600 MW.

The development of the facility is in the very early stages, Willick noted.

Once a specific site has been identified, White Pine Energy Associates plans to begin the process of obtaining the local, state and federal permits and approvals required prior to beginning construction.

"The permitting process could take at least two years to complete," Willick said. "Other keys to moving forward with the White Pine Energy Station include local control of Northern Nevada Railroad, securing long term contracts for the sale of output from the facility, construction of additional transmission capacity and arranging financing."

As a first step, White Pine Energy Associates proposes to enter into an Interim Development Agreement with White Pine County. This proposal will be the subject of a public hearing to be held on Feb. 25.

White Pine Energy Associates is a wholly-owned subsidiary of LS Power Associates, L.P. LS Power Associates, L.P. is a privately held limited partnership that develops, owns and operates environmentally responsible power projects in the United States. LS Power is managed by LS Power Development, LLC, the business successor to LS Power Corporation and LS Power, LLC which have developed nine projects totaling over 5,700 megawatts and over $3 billion in capital investment.

What is the White Pine Energy Station?

The White Pine Energy Station is an environmentally responsible coal-fired electricity generation facility being developed by White Pine Energy Associates, LLC, a subsidiary of LS Power Associates, L.P. The project will burn low-sulfur western coal to produce steam that will be used in turbine generators to produce electricity. In addition to the steam turbine generators, the facility will include equipment and facilities for fuel storage, water treatment, air emissions control and waste storage.

The project will be located within White Pine County, in proximity to the Nevada Northern Railway. The exact location of the project has not been determined at this time, but will be identified as a result of a siting study to be completed by White Pine Energy Associates. The project will require upgrades to the Nevada Northern Railroad and an electrical transmission line to the Gonder substation located just east of Highway 93 south of McGill. Construction of the White Pine Energy Station is targeted to begin in 2006 with commercial operations beginning in 2010.

What will the White Pine Energy Station mean to the local economy?

The Nevada Commission on Economic Development is currently calculating an estimate of the economic and employment impacts of the White Pine Energy Station. In the meantime, the following impacts are known.

EMPLOYMENT: The White Pine Energy Station will employ approximately 100 permanent personnel. This staff will consist of operation and maintenance managers, various supervisors, engineers, mechanics, electricians, equipment operators and other technical and administrative support personnel. These new permanent jobs will be a very stable source of employment for many years to come.

In addition to the permanent jobs created, the project is expected to employ an average of over 600 skilled workers during the 4 year construction period.

TAX REVENUE: The total capital cost of the facility is expected to be $600 million to $1 billion. Based on this level of investment, the facility will generate significant annual property tax revenues for the area.

LOCAL PURCHASES: Millions of dollars will be spent locally each year on goods and services to support construction and operation of the White Pine Energy Station. Local purchases may include: certain building supplies; contractor services such as excavation and landscaping; and maintenance related items such as tools, replacement parts and equipment. These purchases will strengthen the local economy, support additional jobs and create tax revenue.

Where will the electricity be sold?

Electricity from the project will be sold to wholesale electricity customers which may include utilities, municipalities, and electrical cooperatives. These customers will transmit the power for resale to electricity consumers. The market for power from the White Pine Energy Station is Nevada and the surrounding states. Upgrades to the transmission system including construction of new high-voltage transmission line(s) may be required to deliver power from the facility to its wholesale customers.

Why a coal-fired generation technology for the White Pine Energy Station?

Coal is the most abundant energy resource in the United States which can be economically utilized for electricity generation. In fact, over half of all electricity generated in the U.S. is generated from domestically produced coal.

"We believe it is vital to our country's economic interest to utilize the abundant domestic coal resources to meet our growing energy needs, provided that we utilize these resources in an environmentally responsible manner," Lawrence Willick, White Pine Energy Associates, LLC, said. "The facility we are proposing will incorporate advanced air emissions control technologies to minimize air emissions of the project. These technologies include low-NOx burners, scrubbers, baghouses, and a selective catalytic reduction system. These control technologies will make the White Pine Energy Station one of the cleanest coal-fired facilities in the country. By installing this equipment, we will reduce emissions from the facility to be well within levels specified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that air quality is protected."

Who is White Pine Energy Associates, LLC?

White Pine Energy Associates, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of LS Power Associates, L.P. LS Power Associates, L.P., is a privately held company that concentrates on developing new electric generation projects that provide low cost, reliable power in an environmentally responsible manner to wholesale customers. LS Power Associates, L.P. is managed by LS Power Development, LLC, the business successor to LS Power, LLC and LS Power Corporation. LS Power has proven experience and expertise in all aspects of power plant development and management. LS Power has developed nine natural gas-fired projects representing in excess of 5,700 megawatts of electrical capacity and $3 billion in capital investment.

Who should I contact if I have more questions?

"It is White Pine Energy Associates' desire to keep the community informed throughout the project's development process. So if you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me," Willick said.

Lawrence Willick
White Pine Energy Associates, LLC
c/o LS Power Development, LLC
400 Chesterfield Center, Suite 110
St. Louis, MO 63017
888-317-6467 (toll free)

Reprinted with permission of the Ely Times Online, 14 February 2004.

District Attorney reports on railway lawsuit

03 February 2004


By Kristi Fillman

District Attorney Richard Sears reported to the White Pine County Commission on "the V&S Railway lawsuit seeking to condemn the northern portion of the former Nevada Northern rail line. He said there are several companies involved in the filing, one of which buys and sells rails and ties. Apparently, the track on this line would be valuable in coal mining operations. Sears said he filed to get the trial venue changed from Elko to White Pine County. He also said the current effort to purchase the line is going forward."

Reprinted with permission of the Ely Times Online, 03 February 2004.

Lawsuit seeks to seize control of NNRy rails

By Kent Harper—Ely Times Editor

28 January 2004  

Ely could lose its railway connection with the rest of the nation if a condemnation suit filed in Elko County is successful.

City Attorney Richard Sears told the Ely City Council last week that the White Pine Historical Railway Foundation was served with a lawsuit on Jan. 20 that attempts to seize the Nevada Northern Railway right of way from McGill to Cobre in Elko County.

The plaintiff in the suit is V&S Railway, headquartered in Salt Lake City.

V&S also named the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADW&P), the BHP Nevada Railway Co., the Robinson Mining Limited Partnership and BHP Nevada Mining Co. in the suit, as well as the rail foundation. LADW&P owns the actual right of way while the BHP railway still holds a lease on the line. The other plaintiffs all hold security interests.

Ely Mayor Bob Miller told the council he believes that V&S is trying to cash in on the possible reopening of the Robinson Project, or worse, may have plans to tear up the tracks and salvage the rails.

He said he spoke with Michael Van Wagenen of the V&S some time back. Van Wagenen wanted to loan the city $750,000 to buy the NNRy right of way from LADW&P. V&S would be a partner with the city in operating the rail line.

But Miller said he looked into the corporation and discovered it had purchased an unused rail line from Attica, Kan., to Sun City, Kan., in 2000.

The 41-mile route was the Medicine Lodge subdivision line of the Central Kansas Railway, LLC.

Miller said after the purchase was made, V&S sent one train down the line and then pronounced it non-viable as a commercial operation and scrapped the tracks.

Miller said he told V&S the city would gladly accept the loan, but he wanted a stipulation in the contract that the railroad couldn't be scrapped for at least 20 years after its purchase.

"They hung up on me," he added.

But V&S chose another route to get possession of the rail line for whatever its purpose. It filed a condemnation suit in Elko District Court in December 2003.

Under NRS 37.230(2) a railroad company can condemn through eminent domain any real or personal property that it needs to build, maintain or operate its line or yards. If the judge rules in favor of V&S, he will determine what the fair market value is, and order LADW&P to sell the right of way to V&S for that amount.

Ironically, sale of the right of way by LADW&P to the rail foundation is in its final stages, with the deal now in escrow.

V&S claims that it has "endeavored on numerous occasions, through both oral offers and written offers" to purchase the tracks and right of way, "but without success." In order for it to proceed with its plans to construct and operate a proposed rail service in the area, it must seek the eminent domain seizure.

In its court paperwork, V&S describes the rail line as having "existing track on some portions; the track is generally in disrepair; portions of the existing track are missing; and even if those missing portions were replaced the rail line's track is not contiguous, in that it exists in two separate sections."

The first portion runs between Shafter and the McGill Junction and is about 109.5 miles in length. The second portion is the 18.5 mile section between Shafter and Cobre.

"We're going to fight this strenuously and vigorously," Nevada Northern Railway Museum Director Mark Bassett said. "I've been fearful of something like this for a long time. Once that track is torn it, it will be gone forever."

Gone, too, will be all the economic planning that depends on the rail connection, he added.

Reprinted with permission of the Ely Times Online, 27 January 2004.

County OKs grant for Ely museum trails

17 January 2004


By Kristi Fillman

A paved trail may soon run alongside the old railroad tracks from the White Pine Public Museum to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum.

County commissioners Wednesday approved a proposal presented by Kalem Lenard of the Diversified Interagency Recreation Team who is working with the community to write a county-wide trails plan.

"I think it will be a really neat addition to both of these museums," Lenard said. He said the path will be six-feet wide, there will be a staging area with a restroom, kiosk and fencing, and they will also clean up and revitalize a small park located along the path. This trail may tie into a longer trail that will take the railroad grade toward Lackawanna then toward Squaw Peak.

Lenard said the rough budget is for close to $100,000. The railroad, and by extension the City of Ely, will become the owners of the project.

Reprinted with permission of the Ely Times Online.



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