Miners could be in line for dredge mining refunds | TheUnion.com

Miners could be in line for dredge mining refunds

California miners could be in line for tens of thousands of dollars in refunds after they bought licenses last year which the state then banned them from using.

State Senator Sam Aanestad (R- Grass Valley) introduced Senate Bill 889 Tuesday which will allow suction dredge miners to request a refund of suction dredge mining permits that were purchased from the California Department of Fish and Game in 2009.

Thousands of miners purchased permits in 2009 that would allow them to practice suction dredge mining – a practice banned later that same year by the State Legislature.

According to statistics from the Fish and Game website, nearly 4,000 suction dredge mining permits were purchased in 2009. More than 3,000 of the permits were purchased by California residents alone. The cost of a permit for California residents is $47.50, and for out of state miners the permit fee is $186.75. Estimates were not available for the amount of Nevada County miners who purchased the permits or for how many used the permits for work in Nevada County. Aanestad said the decision had a $60 million impact on his Northern California district.

“The busy season for suction dredge mining in California runs between the key months of May through October,” said Senator Aanestad. “When the State Legislature banned this activity, the miners vanished. They didn’t buy fuel in Northern California. They didn’t buy food. They didn’t stay in local hotels. They didn’t rent equipment. The loss of this one industry represented a $60 million hit to the Northern California economy and lost jobs.”

In 2009, the Department collected about $250,000 from miners who were subsequently denied the right to mine. The ban on suction dredge mining took place in early August, following the successful passage of SB 670. The bill must now go before the California Senate’s appropriations committee.

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