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Cement company’s 1,400-acre mining claims spark outcry from Parks community – Arizona's Family

PARKS, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Residents in Parks, just west of Flagstaff, are concerned about more than 1,400 acres in mining claims one company has in Spring Valley. This isn’t their first project in the area, but it’s about 20 times larger. Those who live there say the project would impact thousands of people.
People in Parks said their issue isn’t with the mining project itself, but the noise and landscape changes it would bring to their secluded and quiet community.
Joe Amadeo has lived in Parks, Ariz. for over a decade. He traded the hustle and bustle of the city for “Peace, quiet, great neighbors,” Amadeo said. “All you can hear are the creeks of this saddle, haha.”
Like the 1,100 people who live in the area, Amadeo engrained himself in the community — quickly finding his own slice of paradise in the Spring Valley. But now, he said all the things that drew him here could soon be gone. “It’s remarkable, and to see it all just go for naught. It just makes no sense.”
Cement company Drake has permits to mine about 1,400 acres in the Spring Valley. They’re digging up pozzolana, a volcanic ash that makes eco-friendly cement.
“Drake Cement stands committed to protecting the environment, improving quality of life, and following the law in every community where we do work,” spokesperson David Chavez said in a statement. “As the company has since beginning business in Arizona in 2011, Drake continues to explore potential mining sites in areas in proximity to our Paulden plant. In staking such claims on federal lands, we will continue to obey the General Mining Act of 1872, which requires a fully transparent public process Drake supports wholeheartedly.”
The company started another pozzolana mining project this summer near Williams. Unlike the project in Parks, this one is only 65 acres, and less than five people live in that area. They plan to extract 300,000 to 500,000 tons of the green material each year for 20 years.
“I understand they want to stay within 2 hours of their plant. That totally makes sense,” Joe said. “I was in business for a long time, I understand that, but again, there are places where thousands of people will not be impacted.”
The cement company said these claims don’t automatically mean they will start mining in the near future. “Keep in mind, please, that the placement of an exploratory claim is merely the first step in the long process of potentially extricating minerals from a site,” Chavez said. “In fact, Drake has yet to even apply for a permit to conduct an exploration. Should Drake conduct such an exploration, we will grade, repair and restore the site, per U.S. Forest Service guidelines. Similarly, we will continue to work with the Forest Service should we move ahead with an exploratory site, just as we will continue to work with municipal leaders and residents to create open lines of communication about our plans.”
People who live in the small town are taking this issue to heart. They’re going to town meetings and even started a website. Joe said this isn’t going to only impact residents but the watershed, hunting, and wildlife in the area. “If you’re truly concerned about that, we ask you to show by withdrawing your claim and not pursuing the mining here,” Amadeo said.
The cement company said they will have measures to prevent any of that from happening. “Should Drake move ahead at this location, our work will not create pollution, noise, and industrial traffic, nor will it damage quality of life, property values, tourism, or the quality of water in the area,” Chavez said.
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