A small group of Golden residents hopes to raise awareness and spotlight Denver Brick Company’s plans to expand its existing state land trust lease by nearly tenfold.
They say many in the community may have no idea what’s about to come their way.
According to the company’s application to the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, the Ft. Worth-based corporation seeks to convert its existing mine permit from a 110 Limited Impact permit to a 112 Reclamation Permit.
The conversion would allow DBC to increase the operational footprint from nine to 85.5 acres at its Golden Mine, located approximately .6 miles north of the city on the west side of Highway 93.
It would also authorize an increase in the amount of clay the company may extract from the mine.
Protect the Hogback is a grassroots nonprofit organization formed by several Golden residents and business owners. They say DBC has not done a good job of engaging the community in the application process.
Golden resident Bill O’Brien said he and others first heard the details of the project at an online community meeting held by the company in December 2020.
PTH spokesperson Mike Rawluk fears many homeowners were not notified of the community meeting simply based on their proximity to the mining company’s property line.
According to Rawluk, all the DRMS requires is that the company notify homeowners closest to the project property line.
He points out, though, that very few people live to the north of the city and behind the hogback.
PTH hopes it can open community dialogue and share information about the mine application so residents may come to their own conclusions and take action if they are so inclined.
The New York native and Golden homeowner said that although the organization’s mission is to unify and communicate all public opposition to the mine’s expansion, it’s also focused on getting information out to the public — a task PTH feels DBC could do a lot better.
O’Brien questions why a company the size of DBC wouldn’t want wide-reaching communication with those who may be affected.
PTH Board Member Beth Dwyer said that DBC’s minimal engagement with the community is one of the primary reasons the organization came to be.
Another, she said, was to file a formal objection to the expansion, which PTH did, through the group’s attorney, on Oct. 27, 2021 — the last day of public comment.
The City of Golden also had questions regarding the mine, citing concerns about increased impacts from noise, traffic, and dust, as well as increased production limits.
They filed their comments in a letter to the DRMS on the same day as PTH.
While projects like this trigger many reactions, Rawluk cautions that now is not the time to push on local government because the issue has not yet reached the county’s purview.
He emphasized this is still a state process, suggesting that concerned residents call the governor and contact state representatives rather than the county.
PTH filed an objection to the DBC application last October and has yet to hear anything formal from the state.
The Colorado Department of Natural Resources set the initial application decision date for Dec. 7.
Rawluk said the date was pushed out to Jan. 31, and PTH was not notified of the extension or the reason.
A PTH member found the extension posted on the Department of Natural Resources website.
By filing a formal objection to DBC’s application, Rawluk explains that PTH hopes to garner a hearing.
Colorado Community Media reached out to the Denver Brick Company for comment.
Calls were not immediately returned.
Meanwhile, PTH members share a variety of concerns.
Besides the dust and vibration, Dwyer says she is also concerned about appearance and says that having a mine at the north entrance to the city is not a good look for the community.
O’Brien points out the site lies close to open space areas, and he is concerned about safety, referring to a 2014 event where two teens fell into an abandoned mine.
“My point is when you have this kind of activity, and you’re going to do blasting, and you have teenagers being teenagers, someone could get hurt,” he said. “I care a great deal about the safety of the surrounding community.”
Others want the company to answer questions about how blasting operations may affect the stability and structure of nearby homes.
While waiting for the Jan. 31 decision, Rawluk encourages interested community members to get involved, volunteer, and donate.
He said an excellent source for information is the PTH website which has a signup page for emails and a page where documents may be viewed online.
As far as volunteer positions go, PTH needs subject matter experts in the field—those with mining industry knowledge and would be most helpful.