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Company behind controversial gravel mine pledges to curtail impacts, replace water

This map screenshot depicts state trust land sections at the base of Casper Mountain targeted for potential gravel mining operations.

Posted on April 22, 2024

The much-maligned company exploring a potential gravel mining operation at the base of Casper Mountain is moving forward with its highly controversial plans that nearby residents and recreationalists say would spoil the area, while offering a long list of commitments in hopes to assuage public concerns.

Prism Logistics LLC will consider drilling deep water wells should mining interrupt existing wells in the area, according to a two-page letter that Prism Manager Kyle True issued Thursday. The company also promises to limit the footprint of active mining operations and ask the state for permission to move its crushing operation away from the area to reduce dust and noise.

“We believe that we can responsibly develop this resource taking into account concerns of locals, develop significant economic activity in the area and leave behind an improved ecosystem with more diversity than currently exists,” True said.

The Casper Mountain Preservation Alliance, which represents opponents of the project, said it wouldn’t comment on Prism’s letter or the commitments it has offered. However, the organization says it would rather see Prism abandon the project or state and local officials block it.

“We hope that the mine doesn’t occur,” alliance organizer Carolyn Griffith told WyoFile. “We’re worried about our water, and we’re also worried about the road and trucks.”

Responding to opposition, as well as criticism that it approved gravel mining exploration leases in the area without public notice, the Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners earlier this month ordered staff to investigate whether the agency could negotiate with Prism to voluntarily “relinquish” its leases and potentially compensate the company. But so far, the agency has not offered further details, nor has it reached out to Prism about a potential negotiation, according to True.

Gov. Mark Gordon, left, visits with residents at the base of Casper Mountain April 2, 2024 where a developer is considering a gravel mining operation.

Meantime, the company has applied for a limited mining operation permit with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality — the next step in potentially commencing operations on the state trust lands surrounded by hundreds of homes just west of Casper.

Prism commitments

Homes and grazing operations in the area rely on dozens of shallow water wells, which opponents say are likely to be impacted by mining in the sensitive watershed that flows into the nearby North Platte River.

Kyle True, manager of Prism Logistics, pictured April 4, 2024.

Though True said he doubts the extent of potential interference envisioned by locals, Prism will consider donating to a homeowners’ association one or two deep water wells that tap a more reliable source of water. “This would provide a much better supply of water than the shallow water supply currently used by area residents,” True wrote in the April 18 letter, which was sent to state and local officials, as well as several lawmakers.

In addition to potentially drilling replacement water wells and moving its crushing operation to another location, Prism also promised to “maintain” or improve roads in the area. True also offered several ideas for potential post-mining recreational improvements to the state lands, including fishing ponds, a polo field and planting trees.

“These are not our decisions particularly to make, but the possibilities with proper planning are significant, and this could become an even more enjoyable piece of state land than it is today,” True wrote.

By the book

Casper-based Prism Logistics primarily mines and processes sand and gravel for construction and road building, and currently operates more than a dozen mining operations in the state, according to the company.

The company plays a vital economic role in helping to support construction in the state, True has said, and he sees great “economic” potential in the gravel resource in the Coates Road area west of Casper.

This map depicts Prism Logistics’ mining operations in Wyoming.

So far, the firm has played by the book in pursuit of the effort, according to state and local governments.

Until nearby residents learned about the project, there was no public outcry over permitting such operations or granting leases on state lands. The Office of State Lands and Investments has since come under fire, however, for not notifying nearby residents before the board unanimously approved “exploration leases” on several state land sections last year.

“I think there needs to be a little more scrutiny before these things get put on [the Office of State Lands and Investments’] consent list,” Rep. Steve Harshman (R-Casper) told WyoFile in March. “There’s got to be a way for more public notice and debate.”

Opponents have also taken aim at the state’s limited mining operation program, which essentially rubber-stamps mines smaller than 15 acres without requiring a full slate of environmental analysis.

For its part, Prism has suggested a series of public meetings — which are not required under existing law — after it drafts a mining plan.

Natrona County commissioners have said they will consider exercising a “conditional use permit” should a mining proposal come before the county. Although counties sometimes exert regulatory stipulations on some industrial operations, state officials have said they will not cede authority over state lands, which are managed as a “trust” to support schools.


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