YERINGTON — Lyon County commissioners have approved land-use changes that will allow a company to pursue mining exploration close to Silver City amid strong opposition from residents.
Commissioners’ votes in favor of master plan and zoning changes sought by Comstock Mining came after county planning commissioners recommended denial of the requests last month.
Thursday’s action, which affects 87 acres on the south end of Silver City, allows the company to move forward with exploration to determine the area’s mining potential. Comstock Mining would have to apply for a special-use permit to mine.
The more-than-four-hour hearing drew some 250 people.
Residents said the open-pit mining that the company is considering for the property would harm their quality of life and property values. The company already operates an open-pit mine just to the north in Gold Hill.
John Singlaub, who represents the Comstock Residents Association, said mining activity will cause air- and water-quality, noise and reclamation concerns. He noted Lyon County denied a similar request in 1986.
Supporters, many of whom came on two buses furnished by the company, said the activity would provide an economic boost.
Representatives of the company discussed its efforts to “rehabilitate” the Comstock Mining District with work being done on historical mine sites but said there were no definite plans for the property near Silver City.
Comstock Mining agreed to leave current land-use designations on about 15 acres closest to town in an effort to reduce the visual impacts of any proposed mining.
Commissioners approved the master plan amendment on a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Virgil Arellano the lone dissenter. The zoning change passed on a 5-0 vote.
The company has brought back gold and silver mining to the Comstock Lode, a massive, underground pocket of silver and gold around Virginia City that produced one of the world’s greatest bonanzas and led to Nevada’s statehood in 1864.
At the meeting, Commissioner Bob Hastings disclosed he received campaign contributions of $17,000 from Comstock Mining and its affiliates during his 2012 campaign.
Hastings says he discussed the matter with the Nevada Ethics Commission and was told he did not have to abstain from voting.