Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced Barrick Gold, U.S. Inc. has stabilized and secured an 11-acre pile of mercury waste tailings at the Cordero mercury mine, near McDermitt in Humboldt County, Nev. The work cost approximately $1.3M.
“Securing the Cordero mine waste will protect surrounding lands and watersheds,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “Barrick Gold worked cooperatively with EPA, BLM and the State of Nevada to ensure a timely and comprehensive solution.”
The Cordero mercury mine, most of which is located on federal land, is no longer active, but had a large calcine pile that accumulated from historical operations. Calcine is the waste material from crushed mine ore that has been heated to remove mercury. Samples from the Cordero Mine calcine pile and nearby soil showed elevated levels of arsenic and mercury. Barrick agreed to regrade and cover the pile to reduce risks to the surrounding environment. Barrick Gold installed fencing and proper drainage to prevent runoff.
“Barrick is one of Nevada's industry leaders in both environmental stewardship and environmental remediation,” said BLM Nevada Deputy State Director for Minerals Brian Amme. "Barrick consistently steps up to the plate to work cooperatively with the regulating agencies to resolve contamination issues in a timely manner. Without their cooperation, sites like Cordero would still be a continuing health and safety risk to the public and surrounding environment.”
EPA, BLM, Barrick, and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) will limit how the land is used in the future to maintain the integrity of the stabilization work. The agreement, enforceable by NDEP, will restrict activity, use and construction on the site that could compromise the fencing, cover and regrading work.
“I appreciate Barrick Gold’s cooperation in addressing this risk to the McDermitt community and protecting Nevada’s natural resources,” said Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Director Bradley Crowell. “I am confident that the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, BLM and EPA will ensure this land is safe today and in perpetuity.”
The work was part of a 2017 EPA and BLM Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent in which Barrick Gold agreed to stabilize the contaminated soil under the agencies’ oversight. The work was completed in February 2018 and documented in a final report.
Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region.
SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)