New World Mine claims all purchased

20 year threat of mining near Yellowstone National Park is over.

The New World Mine was proposed to be built just north of Yellowstone National Park in 1990 by a Canadian mining company but it received a lot of opposition because it greatly threatened the headwaters of the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone and Soda Butte Creek which flows into Yellowstone National Park from the northeast.

President Bill Clinton fought the mine and a settlement was reached in 1996 but the mining claims were still held by private interests. The Trust for Public Land has purchased the last of these claims and now the threat of the mines is finally gone.

The 1872 Mining Act needs to be changed so that mining companies cannot extort the American taxpayers or others by threatening to mine such sensitive areas.

New World Mine claims all purchased.
Associated Press





  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The prevention of this giant gold mine on the NE boundary of Yellowstone Park was in my opinion the finest hour of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition who were the most significant organizational opponents of this destructive mining plan.

    Now that a decade has passed, of course many people have forgotten the threat of that time, and younger folks probably never heard about it.

  2. Elk275 Avatar

    ++The prevention of this giant gold mine on the NE boundary of Yellowstone Park was in my opinion the finest hour of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition who were the most significant organizational opponents of this destructive mining plan. ++

    Was it the Greater Yellowstone Coalition or was it Ralph and Sue Giddon owners of the general store in Cooke City, Montana who stopped this mine? I was having my morning Earl Gray Tea one morning and Max Baccus stopped in and ask me if I wanted to talk. I mentioned the mine and here is the story that he told me: In the early years of Clinton first term he came and spent 2 nights and 3 days in Billings. On the second night Bill took questions from the public at the local press conference, but all questions had to be written out and submitted to him before the press conference. Shortly before he press conference the Secrete Service summon Max Baccus to the president’s limo and Clinton ask him about this mine. Max explained it the best he could and instant research as only the president can get was conducted. Later that evening, I believe it was Sue Giddon, who ask about the mine and Clinton give an knowledgeable answer. From that question the country knew about the mine and soon opposition from outside the area developed.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    When President Bill Clinton came to visit Yellowstone he had a long meeting with conservation leaders at the Buffalo Ranch where the mine was a prominent issue raised. He also met local people and flew over the proposed mine site.

    When he returned to D.C., he very quickly took action that got the federal gov’t on the side of stopping the mine. For example, he withdrew the unclaimed part of the area from mineral entry.

    I thought it was significant that given the scale of the controversy, Montana politicians had done nothing to try to help until Clinton came. I’m not sure they did much even afterward.

    However, Clinton alone did not stop the mine. No one individual did or could because Noranda and others held valid mining claims, both patented and unpatented. The Noranda mining company, which was located in Canada, had to be talked into willingness to give up the project. I know GYC leaders and Board members met with the Noranda BOD and had numerous contacts with them and the federal government as the matter proceeded from start to mine to abandon the mine and accept a buyout.

    1. mikarooni Avatar

      Gore was also very active in working the deal and, if my memory serves me, Noranda got some Montana coal lands in trade.

  4. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    FYI—the same attorney pleading the pro-wolf side of the case before Judge Molloy this week is the same attorney who got Noranda-Crown Butte to give up the New World mine by invoking Clean Water Act violations concerning the acid mine drainage in the old mines. That legal arrow pierced a vital organ. It was shot by Doug Hohnnold ( sp) , who is also Louisa Wilcox’s husband ; he of Earth Justice these days and she of Natural Resources Defense Council in Livingston MT. She was GYC back then and Doug was Sierra Club Legal Defense, which spun off into EJ. Doug and Louisa are champions of conservation justice in the Greater Yellowstone.

    However, a real good story about the New World saga seldom told is the local Cody chapter of Trout Unlimited buying exactly 1/4 share of stock in Noranda. A small delegation of three fine local pescaderos took it upon themselves to actually went to attend the Noranda stockholder’s annual meeting in Toronto , Ontario, using their 1/4 share as a ticket. They stood up and proceeded to tell the assemblage about this egregious mine project on the front stoop of Yellowstone. The Noranda CEO and other execs got the message loud and clear , after their faces reverted from red back to pale. The stockholders really did not know much about this New World Mine folly before that . Noranda is so big and so global it was actually a small project to them . Big to us, though. Those boys got one heckuva lot of Canadian press out of it. The analogy would be hooking a 25 pound Yellowstone Cutthroat on a tiny dry fly and 8-lb. test line

    I really believe to this day that Trout Unlimited’s unorthodox deliverance of the message straight to the stockholders was a stroke of genius, and a turning point. It most certainly was the highest return on a 1/4 share stock buy that I know of…

    Yes, eventually Noranda traded away their interest in New World for coal leases of equivalent value further east in Montana, the same Otter Creek leases being jimboed right now, actually. The New World claims were effectively neutralized. Even though they were still patented mine lands and reverted back to their previous owners, nobody was going to be able to mine them without cleaning up the whole damn mountain of the acid mine drainage. They were stalemated. Or as HBO comedian Bill Maher would put it, ” New Rules”. It just took the heirs of that old mining biddy , the late Margaret Reeb , all of these past 15 years to dispense with them thus and so.

    I spent 8 years helping the GYC and local Cody resource council fight Noranda.

    ( In a few days I’ll write back with a terrifying new tale about the Ghost of Noranda coming back to haunt us )

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Thanks Cody,

      I appreciate the more detailed story. Your memory on this is better than mine. I worked on it too, but I pretty much stopped following the issue once it seemed settled.

      I drove up on the mountain a couple times back in about 2005-7.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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