SALEM - House Bill 3089, introduced by Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) and co-sponsored by Rep. Brad Witt (D-St. Helens) passed the House and Senate earlier this month and has moved to Oregon Governor Kate Brown for her consideration.

House Bill 3089 directs the State Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) to conduct a study of the mineral resource potential of Eastern and Southern Oregon Counties, and then to report its findings to the Legislative Assembly. It also asks DOGAMI to post the report on its website making information regarding Eastern Oregon’s mineral resources widely available.

The bill states, “In Eastern Oregon, including Lake, Harney, Malheur, Baker and Grant Counties, diversifying the types of natural resource uses that contribute to local economies enables those economies to better withstand temporary economic declines that affect specific natural resource uses.”

Rep. Bentz has worked since 2011 to gain support for and to pass this important legislation.

“Mining is already extremely important to Eastern Oregon’s economy, but most of the State, and for that matter, the world, has no idea of the billions of dollars of minerals waiting to be put to use. This mineral audit will disclose the variety and location of these vast natural resource so readily available for the creation of jobs and businesses, and of course, revenue for our schools,” said Bentz.

Said Rich Angstrom, President of Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Association, “The importance of HB 3089 cannot be overstated. It refocuses DOGAMI on mineral deposits for commercial development. This will help Oregon’s economy, especially the areas of Eastern and Southern Oregon. This bill provides some hope that prosperity will return to Oregon’s rural counties.”

“This is a modest but significant win for Eastern and Southern Oregon,” said Dave Hunnicutt, President of Oregonians in Action. “For the first time, the state of Oregon has recognized that mining is a natural resource use. We hope that this bill spurs industry to look to Eastern and Southern Oregon for new mining opportunities.”

The “mineral audit” will include a list of previous studies and inventories done, an estimate of the cost of making these previous studies available online, and a detailed list of which mineral commodities are available and most likely to be economically developable.

House Bill 3089 awaits the Governor’s signature. More information about HB 3089 can be found at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Measures/Overview/HB3089.

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