The Latest: Court rules against gold mining technique

Markets Associated Press

The Latest on the California Supreme Court's ruling on a gold mining technique (all times local):

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10:50 a.m.

The California Supreme Court has upheld a state ban on using powerful underwater vacuums to extract gold from rivers.

The court said in a unanimous ruling Monday that a 19th century federal law that allows people to mine U.S.-owned land for gold and other minerals doesn't overrule the ban.

Associate Justice Kathryn Werdegar said the federal law doesn't regulate how gold is mined and supports local control over mining land.

The vacuums, called suction dredges, suck up rocks, gravel and sand from riverbeds to filter out gold.

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Miners say preventing use of the devices amounts to an illegal ban on gold mining because mining by hand is labor intensive and makes the enterprise unprofitable.

A message for an attorney representing a gold miner who was the defendant in the case wasn't immediately returned.

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12:30 a.m.

The California Supreme Court is set to rule on the legality of the state's ban on the use of suction dredges to extract gold from rivers.

At issue in the decision expected on Monday is whether the ban is overruled by a 19th century federal law that allows mining of gold and other minerals on federal land.

Suction dredges are powerful underwater vacuums that suck up rocks, gravel and sand from riverbeds to filter out gold.

Miners say the state's ban on dredges amounts to a ban on gold mining because mining by hand is labor intensive and makes the enterprise unprofitable.

State officials say suction dredge mining risks killing fish and stirring up toxic mercury. They say they have a right to protect the state's environment that is not pre-empted by federal mining law.