A hearing was held in federal district court on October 26 in Phoenix on the move by U.S. government and anti-mining groups to throw out suits over the Interior Dept. withdrawal of a million acres of federal lands from mineral exploration and mining [right, withdrawn areas bordered in red. Credit, BLM]. We've heard reports on the hearing from a couple of observers who were there. We haven't seen any news reports of the hearing.
We understand the miners and mining proponents collectively had eight senior attorneys present; the federal government had one, who was described as young, with apparently limited experience. Our sources say that environmental groups in the audience were passing notes and papers to the federal attorney during the hearing.
The judge was described as "incredibly good, polite, attentive, intelligent, and had done his
homework even though he apologized for not having read the briefs as
thoroughly as he should have." He said he would have his decision in several weeks and would at
that time set up future hearing dates -- from which some construed
that he isn't planning on throwing out the combined set of cases from mining interests.
It appears that at this stage, the US/anti-miners position is that those who own claims had no damages from the 20-year withdrawal. The mining industry has to get past this move to have the case thrown out on the basis of no damages before they can argue the issue of the withdrawal itself.
If any other attendees have comments or observations on the hearing, I'd like to hear them.