By Michael Virtanen
State environmental officials have approved a mining reclamation permit for a Tupper Lake company to resume crushing and removing stone from the former titanium mine near the headwaters of the Hudson River in Newcomb.
The Department of Environmental Conservation approved the permit for Mitchell Stone Products on May 3, DEC environmental analyst Sarah Davies said.
Paul Mitchell, owner of the company, bought the former titanium mine from NL Industries this year. For a decade prior, he had been trucking stone from the site under a contract with NL, which stopped mining at Tahawus in 1989.
Mitchell said he had considered shipping stone by train, but an economic analysis accompanying his permit application said standard rail costs currently exceed the market price for the stone in the more lucrative New York City market 240 miles south.
The company said in the application it planned to continue removing crushed mine tailings from 23 acres by truck to the upstate market locally for construction. Iowa Pacific Holdings, which owns the 30-mile rail line from Tahawus to North Creek, had shipped about 80 freight cars of stone by rail for its own use in the last several years, the filing said.
Mitchell, who bought almost 1,200 acres from NL Industries, applied to the DEC for a new permit to screen, crush and remove an estimated 35,000 to 55,000 tons annually of leftover stone from piles of rock near two old pit mines now filled with water.
The application estimated that operation could continue for about 75 years.
Officials from Newcomb, Long Lake and Hamilton County wrote to the DEC in support of the application, saying Mitchell’s operation, idled for a month with the application pending, provides jobs and a reliable source of stone for public works projects while removing waste stone.
The company projected noise levels from its heavy machinery below ambient levels but agreed to start work on Saturdays at 8 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.
The Hudson begins several miles north at the Lake Henderson spillway. It first passes near the Upper Works parking area that leads to a trail up Mt. Marcy and near the partly restored historic hamlet of Adirondac, with its buildings and 200-year-old blast furnace.
The river passes about 1,200 feet west of the Mitchell reclamation site. The Opalescent River passes by about 2,500 feet to the east, according to the company’s environmental report. It predicts no adverse impacts to either waterway and said most groundwater from the industrial site drains into the two former pit mines.
No comments were filed in opposition to the permit, Davies said.
Mitchell said they’ve continued to truck stone out and the screening and crushing probably will resume in mid-May employing three or four people. The industrial buildings for processing titanium were removed by NL Industries more than 10 years ago and the company’s environmental reports showed “a fairly lean bill of health,” he said.