Mining History

SHRA has many years of experience researching and analyzing the mining industry of the United States. We have examined vast archival material and written about both metal and mineral mining across the country. We are experts at examining mining maps, understanding the evolution of a given mine and mill – including any technological changes – and assessing any given mining region or corporation’s waste disposal methods. We are adept at examining a particular mine’s operations in light of the industry standards at the time of operation. Finally, our researchers are familiar with the federal government requirements of the mining industry during the 19th and 20th centuries, and where to uncover federal records that can help answer questions relating to liability or simple mining development.

Select Past Projects

Sunnyside Gold Corporation, In Re: Gold King Release in San Juan County, Colorado on Aug. 15, 2015 (Colorado, 2019-2021)
SHRA was retained to conduct research and offer findings related to the gold, silver, and other mining history in the remote mountains surrounding Silverton, Colorado, after a mining accident released a significant volume of polluted water to the Animas River. Using historic records from several repositories, SHRA produced an expert report and deposition testimony, leading to a favorable out-of-court settlement.  
History of Mining and Milling on the Comstock Lode (Nevada, 2015-2016)
SHRA was retained in 2015 to conduct original research and provide an expert report related to mining history, business relationships, and waste disposal on the Comstock Lode on the Carson River, Nevada in support of a client’s CERCLA liability defense. The project required extensive research on dozens of mine and mill sites and a reconstruction of the entire area’s history as it related to the current state of pollution in the river. SHRA produced an expert report which ultimately led to favorable settlement discussions with the federal agency.

Joseph Pakootas et al v. Teck Cominco, Inc. (2011-2012)

In the matter of Pakootas et al v. Teck Cominco, SHRA provided historical research on metal mining in northern Washington and Idaho in an effort to determine liability for pollution in Lake Roosevelt, an impoundment on the Columbia River that borders the Colville Indian Reservation. Teck advanced a divisibility defense which was struck down by the Eastern District Court of Washington State. Dr. Jennifer Stevens served as a rebuttal expert on behalf of the Colville Confederated Tribes and the State of Washington, and provided deposition testimony. The case was tried in September 2012 on a limited number of issues following Teck’s stipulation to a variety of contested facts, and decided in favor of Tribe and the State of Washington.

Client Confidential (2012-present)

SHRA researched and provided an expert report on a metals mining processing plant in the southern United States. SHRA answered questions regarding the standards in the industry at the start of the 20th century, and how this particular site fit into the industry as a whole. Our researchers examined federal government documents as well as industry sources to construct a narrative related to the extraction, processing, and sale of this particular metal across the United States in the early 1900s in a case that revolved around piercing the corporate veil.

Baker City, Oregon v. United States of America (2010-2011)

A small Oregon town hired SHRA to explore the history of the 20+ mile ditch that dates to the mid-19th century mining boom in the area and through which the town receives its municipal water supply. Much-needed repairs triggered the U.S. Forest Service to require National Environmental Protection Act studies on the work by the town, a prospect that would bankrupt it. The issue at hand was whether the ditch could be classified as an R.S. 2339 ditch under the 1866 Mining Law. SHRA researched and analyzed the status and use of the ditch over the course of the past 150+ years, and submitted an expert report in the matter. At a bench trial in October
2011, Dr. Jennifer Stevens provided one day of testimony, and the judge decided in favor of the town.