Disparate perspectives of ORC COO, Dan Smith and the Bandon Woodlands Community Association, co presidents, Jack and Julie Jones are presented in this video report by Ethos Magazine.

A Deal For Seven Devils

One hundred and sixty families are…

…fighting proposed plans to deforest about 200 acres of land to clear space for an open-pit chromite mine.

“It’s beautiful here. We can hear the ocean from our house,” Julie says. She fears the consequences of a future mining operation. “I won’t be able to hear the ocean anymore.”
Oregon Resources Corporation (ORC), an American subsidiary owned by a larger Australian company called Industrial Minerals Corporation (IMC), has spent the last twenty-one years surveying the land near Coos Bay and developing the most efficient way to extract chromite from under the ground surface. The unique form of chromite comes from the black sand commonly seen on beaches and contains chromite, garnet, and zircon. It’s used in the stainless steel industry for large equipment like auto parts and aircraft.

Currently, South Africa, Kazakhstan, and India are the world’s largest producers of chromite, and companies pay $310 to $360 per ton to import the mineral, according to the trade journal Industrial Minerals. If completed, the Coos Bay mine will be the only active strip mine in the United States that supplies chromite, but prices will remain competitive due to its high quality.

ORC plans to start digging the first of its new open-pit mines by March 2011 and continue the mining and reclamation process for eight years. The company will mine twenty to forty acres of land and 700,000 to 900,000 tons of ore per year. After excavation, the material will be transported to a production plant in Coos Bay, where the ore will be washed and processed to sift out the valuable minerals. The remaining sand will be used to refill the holes before the land is leveled and replanted with trees.

“It’s just digging a sand pit, that’s all we’re doing here,” says ORC’s Chief Operating Officer Dan Smith.

Black Sands from Ethos Magazine on Vimeo.

(Photos and Video by Rachelle Hacmac)