"We have to do everything we can to protect parks like Yellowstone. They're more priceless than gold."
- President Clinton,
August 26, 1995
- Agreement. On August 12, 1996, President Clinton announced a New World Mine Agreement designed to protect lands and resources adjacent to Yellowstone National Park and other wilderness areas. The Agreement is an "Agreement in Principle" between the US Government, Crown Butte Mines Inc. and Crown Butte Resources, Ltd. (the owners of the proposed New World Mine), and several environmental groups (including Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Beartooth Alliance and Sierra Club).
- Asset Exchange. The Agreement calls for the US to exchange $65 million in property or assets with Crown Butte for Crown Butte's interest in the mine (currently estimated at $65 million), and their agreement to cease development of the New World Mine. The transfer is subject to an appraisal to confirm that Crown Butte's property is worth at least $65 million.
- Cleanup. Crown Butte will place $22.5 million into an escrow account to cover the costs of cleaning up the site and restoring any damages to natural resources. Crown Butte will clean up all environmental damage caused by smaller-scale historic mining activity over more than 100 years.
- Consent Decree. One important prerequisite to restoration and reclamation actions is the execution of a Consent Decree, to be entered in the US District Court for the District of Montana, in which Crown Butte agrees to conditions set by the US, after consultation with the states and environmental groups, and an opportunity for the public to comment. The Consent Decree is necessary to settle outstanding lawsuits by environmental groups against Crown Butte.
- Location. The proposed New World Mine is located in the historic New World Mining District consisting of some 25,000 acres adjacent to the town of Cooke City, Montana, which is five miles northeast of Yellowstone Park. The District is the location of approximately 50 historic gold, copper and silver mines and three former smelters which were operated from the late 1800s to the 1950s. The new mine would have been an underground mine using a spiral truck shaft and conventional stopes.
- Threat to Water Quality. Among the many concerns about the proposed New World Mine, the principal was the threat to water quality. This threat led to a 1993 Clean Water Act suit filed in US District Court by local environmental groups (including Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Beartooth Alliance and Sierra Club) to protect Yellowstone Park, the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness, and its adjacent streams. This suit is to be settled by the Consent Decree.