Forest Service Approves Honeycomb Mine Project in Utah

On May 12, 2016, the United States Forest Service published the final decision and finding of no significant impact for the Honeycomb Mine Project. The decision approves the plan of operations submitted by Ameri-can Onyx, LLC for continued open pit mining of “honeycomb onyx” (a type of calcite) at the Honeycomb Mine. Andrew A. Irvine, P.C., represents Ameri-can Onyx and handled all legal matters concerning claim location, environmental analysis, and state and federal permitting.

The mine is located high in the Uinta Mountains, at an elevation of approximately 10,600 feet, on the Duchesne Ranger District of the Ashley National Forest Honeycomb Mine Pic 1near Hanna, Utah. Mining operations are proposed to average 3,000 tons of calcite per year, with a maximum of 6,000 tons per year, for an estimated period of 10 to 15 years. Because of the high elevation and associated seasonal snowfall, mine operations will generally be limited to a period between June and November of each year. The proposed project area is approximately 10 acres in size, but with concurrent reclamation of areas no longer needed for active mining, there would be no more than 2.5 acres of active disturbance at any given time. More information on the Forest Service’s decision and the planned operations at the mine can be found here.

“Honeycomb onyx” is also known as “calcite onyx,” “honeycomb calcite,” and “amber onyx,” among other names. Calcite from this area in Utah is a translucent calcite with a honey or orange color and is similar to marble and travertine in strength and other traits. The stone is used for counter tops, wall tiles, other home and building uses, as well as for carvings, artwork and jewelry

Ameri-can Onyx faced numerous legal challenges leading to Honeycomb Mine Pic 2mine approval, starting with litigation against Shamrock Mining Associates, LLC over disputed mining claim locations. Shamrock failed to pay maintenance fees on certain claims covered by the Honeycomb Mine area. As a result, Ameri-can Onyx’s predecessor located claim
s on the lands open to location and negotiated a favorable settlement agreement with Shamrock to gain complete ownership of the Honeycomb Mine. Ameri-can Onyx then developed and submitted a new plan of operations for the mine to reclaim past operations and develop new operations. The plan of operations was successfully ushered through the Forest Service’s NEPA process, leading to the recent final decision and finding of no significant impact. Mine operations are set to begin at the Honeycomb Mine this summer.