Monday, October 4, 2010

No Plans for Mine on Ortiz Ranch

By Jessica Dyer
Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

"The property that Gov. Bill Richardson wants to buy for a state park and wild horse sanctuary is under lease for mineral resource exploration, but the mineral rights' owner said there are no current plans for mining.

Anne Russ said last week that her family owns the mineral rights to the 12,000 acres of land three miles south of Madrid known as the Ortiz Mountain Ranch and that the rights have been sublet to Santa Fe Gold for exploration.

The lease runs for another five years, but there are no current plans to mine, she added.

"We've just leased for exploration, but there really isn't anything concrete in the works," Russ said.

The property's mineral rights came up last week when New Mexico State Parks Director Dave Simon spoke to the Santa Fe County Commission about the proposal to buy the Ortiz Mountain Ranch land to expand the nearby Cerrillos Hills State Park — which sits on land owned primarily by the county — and to establish a wild horse sanctuary.

The governor's office last month announced the plan to use $2.8 million in federal stimulus funding for the purchase. Richardson said the investment would boost tourism while also creating jobs and providing recreation opportunities for the public.

..."But, she wrote, "It is uncertain if these deposits will be mined in the near future, because of uncertainties in the economy, fulfilling regulatory requirements, and potential local opposition to mining."

Russ' grandfather purchased the Ortiz Land Grant in the 1940s but quickly sold the surface rights, she said.

Russ said her family leases the mineral rights at the Ortiz Mountain Ranch to Ortiz Mines Inc., which then sub-let them to Santa Fe Gold. Russ is the president of Ortiz Mines. Ortiz Mines had previously leased about 65,000 acres of mineral rights in the Galisteo Basin to Tecton Energy. But Tecton's plans to drill for oil and gas in the area never came to fruition after they faced intense local opposition." More>>>>

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