Daily Editorial: Good news for who? | VailDaily.com

Daily Editorial: Good news for who?

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

It’s celebration time in Leadville. It has to be, with last week’s news that Freeport-McMoRan, the new owner of the Climax molybdenum mine, will reopen the facility next year.

An open Climax mine means more property tax revenue for Lake County, good news indeed for the county’s schools. It also means about 350 permanent, high-paying jobs at the mine, more good news for the community.

But Leadville’s good news is bad news for employers in the Vail Valley and Summit County. Sure, 350 jobs doesn’t seem like much in the big scheme of things, but if you took that many people off the Eagle County government’s payroll, you’d be left with a skeleton crew of a few dozen.

While Summit County will be affected, the harder hit is likely to come in Eagle County. Employers in the western part of the county are already losing workers to high-paying jobs in the oil and gas industry in Garfield County. Now a “traditional” industry is setting up what sounds like a permanent presence closer to Vail.

The resort industry has gone through a couple of decades during which it’s had the mountain workforce largely to itself, as mining operations shut down and the railroad stopped running through this part of the High Country.

With the return of mining ” even mining that employs hundreds, rather than thousands, of people ” local businesses are going to be even more hard-pressed to find, and retain, good people.

There’s already a significant effort under way to find new ways to create and pay for worker housing. But the return of mining means employers are going to face more hard questions about how much they pay and what benefits they can provide.

” Scott Miller for the Editorial Board

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