Contaminated water leaking from the Cross and Caribou mines above Nederland is not a threat to drinking water in the area, state mine reclamation officials said in a statement. letter to the public, although they also placed the mine in a higher category of environmental review sought by conservation groups.
Colorado’s Division of Reclamation, Mines and Safety said it “has found no evidence that groundwater discharges from the mine have resulted in degradation of surface water resources and underground,” after reviewing public complaints and tests showing near-mine releases of heavy metals like copper and lead.
Despite past discharge standards exceedances, the state “found that all discharges were below drinking water standards,” the letter said. Officials said they also take into account the distance between the mine and any domestic wells and water sampling data provided by the City of Boulder for Coon Track Creek, Middle Boulder Creek and Barker Reservoir in the basin. Boulder slope.
Mine officials said they were satisfied.
“The water that comes out of our mine is and always has been safe to drink,” said a statement released by Daniel Takami, president of mine owner Grand Island Resources. “We remain committed to respecting and enhancing Cross and Caribou Mines’ legacy of ‘environmentally responsible mining’ while being exemplary stewards of Boulder County’s lands and waters. “
The mine in the mountains northwest of Nederland remains under state scrutiny as it demonstrates new water cleaning equipment installed to prevent contaminated water from overflowing discharge ponds. In January, the state’s Mined Land Reclamation Board fined the owners of Cross and Caribou $17,000 for water quality violations at discharge points, but suspended the entire fine, save $5,000, as long as Grand Island Resources continues its “good faith” efforts to install containment and clean-up equipment.
State agency staff have so far supported the mine’s efforts to complete a filtration system for any water emitted from the historic mine, and said they will continue on-site review of improvements and water sampling.
In a separate letter, state officials informed the mine that they were declaring it a “designated mining operation,” which adds a layer of rules under state law.
The designation “will ensure that careful consideration is given to all potential disturbances of toxic materials to ensure the protection of water quality,” said attorney Jeff Parsons, who works for the Western Mining Action Project and represents Save The Colorado and its members in Boulder County.
The designation triggers a 2019 state law that requires the mine to “demonstrate that no perpetual water treatment will be required upon closure – so that there is a meaningful reclamation plan” without appointment “that doesn’t burden the community or ratepayers with long-term water quality issues,” Parsons said.
“We are delighted that the state has decided on a ‘designated mining operation’ and we will continue to support the City of Nederland and the community of Boulder County to help ensure Boulder Creek’s water quality is protected. “said Gary Wockner of Save The Colorado, which last year worked with Dutch officials to pass a resolution granting “nature rights” to the Boulder Creek watershed.
The mine has 30 days from its designation on Feb. 17 to prepare an environmental protection plan or challenge the state’s decision, Parsons said. Grand Island Resources said it is reviewing the state’s designation before deciding how to respond later in March.
The mine owners’ statement welcoming the state’s clean water results statement was more aimed at Dutch officials whom they blame for a public outcry over the potential relaunch of gold operations.
“Going forward, we hope that uninformed activists and elected officials will work with us to get all the facts first before making potentially harmful, libelous and blatantly untrue statements that cause unwarranted fear and uncertainty among our friends. and neighbours,” Takami said. “The citizens of Nederland and Boulder County deserve better. ”