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Mining Co., Nev. Ranch Settle Eminent Domain Suit

MARTIN GRIFFITH

RENO, Nev. (AP) â¿¿ A state lawmaker said Friday she wants to repeal provisions of an 1875 state law that give mining companies essentially the same power of eminent domain as government.

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, announced her plans a day after a Canadian-based mining company and a Nevada ranch settled an eminent domain lawsuit over the company's attempt to seize part of the ranch for a gold mine.

Fronteer Gold Corp.'s tentative deal to purchase the entire Big Springs Ranch in Elko County for the Long Canyon mine was announced during a hearing in Elko District Court.

The sale price was not disclosed, and Judge Andrew Puccinelli instructed both sides not to talk about the settlement until it's final Aug. 1, the Elko Daily Free Press reported.

The case â¿¿ which has divided miners and ranchers â¿¿ puts the spotlight on an 1875 state law that says mining is of "paramount interest" to Nevada and essentially lets companies take land for mining the same way the government can for public use.

Leslie said she has requested the drafting of a bill that would eliminate the power of eminent domain for mining companies.

At least two other mining companies have tried to use eminent domain for northern Nevada projects in recent decades.

"It's one thing to use the power of eminent domain for roads," Leslie said. "It's a completely different thing for private business to use it to make a profit. I don't think that's right, and I don't think the Legislature will think that's right."

Former Nevada state Archivist Guy Rocha said the mining provision dates back to a time when Nevada's economy revolved around mining, and it's outdated.

"The law has been upheld in both state and federal courts, but mining isn't a paramount industry in Nevada anymore," he said. "Why this law is still on the books is questionable."

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