New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) is a public interest law firm that provides free and low-cost legal services on environmental matters throughout New Mexico.

On December 29th, the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division issued a “Return to Active” Permit for Rio Grande Resource’s Mt. Taylor uranium mine. The permit will allow eight years of so-called “reactivation” activities. However, nothing in the application indicates that there will be mining production.

The NM Mining Act allows mines to be inactive (“standby”) for a maximum of 20 years; the Mt Taylor Mine (MTM) has already been inactive since before the Mining Act (1993) and for 19 years under the Mining Act’s governance (do not try to do the math). When a mine is in active or standby status, reclamation requirements are put on hold. This decision means that so long as a mining company comes up with a plan, no matter how far-fetched, for producing minerals at some indeterminate time in the future, it can effectively put off cleaning up the mine forever. The MTM is a “zombie” mine: neither “alive” nor “dead.” It will continue to threaten the land, air, and water, and the communities around it.

New Mexico Environmental Law Center’s clients, the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) and Amigos Bravos, represented by Eric Jantz, will appeal the permit.

NMELC holds an agency endowment with NMCF. To learn how your organization can do the same, please contact Linda Milbourn at