YERINGTON — Lyon County commissioners have approved land use changes that will allow a company to pursue mining exploration close to the historic town of Silver City about 30 miles southeast of Reno despite opposition.
Commissioners’ votes in favor of master plan and zoning changes sought by Comstock Mining Inc. came after county planning commissioners recommended denial of the requests last month.
Thursday’s action, which affects 87 acres on the south end of Silver City, allows the company to move forward with exploration to determine the area’s mining potential. Comstock would have to apply for a special-use permit to mine.
The hearing drew some 250 people.
Silver City residents said the open-pit mining that the company is considering for the property would harm their quality of life and property values. The company already operates an open-pit mine just to the north in Gold Hill.
John Singlaub, who represents the Comstock Residents Association, said mining activity would cause air and water quality, noise and reclamation concerns.
Supporters, many of whom came on two buses furnished by the company, said the activity would provide an economic boost to the local economy.
Comstock agreed to leave current land use designations on about 15 acres closest to town to reduce the visual impacts of any proposed mining.
Commissioners approved the master plan amendment on a 4-1 vote, with Virgil Arellano the dissenter. The zoning change passed on a 5-0 vote.
The company has brought back gold and silver mining to the Comstock Lode, a massive, underground pocket of silver and gold around Virginia City that produced one of the world’s greatest bonanzas and led to Nevada’s statehood in 1864.