By Brad Jones
GPAA Managing Editor
In what can only be seen as bizarre turn of events, yesterday miners seem to have lost most of the ground they’ve gained in the six-year legal battle to end the ban on suction dredge mining in California.
California Superior Court Judge Gilbert Ochoa denied a proposed injunction intended to allow dredgers back in the water. Ochoa stated that in his opinion the miners have suffered under the ban but not enough harm to warrant injunctive relief.
Ochoa wrote in his tentative ruling that because the People v. Brandon Reinhart appellate decision has been “de-published” and the case has reached the California Supreme Court, that his own ruling on federal preemption in favor of miners in January is now also up for review.
Miners argue that the “two-year dredging moratorium” imposed by the state in 2009, has dragged on for six years and is no longer a moratorium but an outright ban that violates that rights of miners under the Mining Law of 1872 as well as the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.
Attorneys for Public Lands for the People, New ’49ers and Western Mining Alliance contend that the financial losses as well as the state’s continuing violations of congressionally granted and constitutional rights is “irreparable harm.”
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said PLP President Walt Wegner.
Mining rights groups, including PLP, New 49ers and WMA, are now developing an appeal strategy, Wegner said.
A trial has now been set for Jan. 20, 2016 to conclude the dredging ban cases that remain before Ochoa.
For more information, go to Public Lands for the People and the Western Mining Alliance websites.
Brad Jones is the Managing Editor/Communications Director for the Gold Prospectors Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.