I am writing with concerns and information about the Leadville Mill, which is to be located near the wastewater treatment plant off U.S. 24 just east of Malta curve. There are a number of issues with this new operation which are troublesome to me.
First and foremost, based on the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) permit application, this is a cyanide leach extraction operation. I am worried about this type of operation and long-term waste storage requirements with the possibility of leaks, spills and other accidents in such close proximity to so many residential properties. The permanent storage of this type of waste material over the long term seems an unnecessary risk for the health of the aquifers sourced by well users, of which I am one. Additionally, simple proximity of this facility to residential real estate would have the potential to adversely impact resale. The nature of the operation alone seems enough justification to ask that it be located more remotely.
My second area of concern involves the source of water for the operation. The permit documentation lists the requirement as 30,000 to 40,000 gallons per day. Initially, the permit plan is to truck the water in from the Parkville Water District loading station. This has been confirmed by Parkville.
However, the long-term plan according to the permit application is to secure water rights. I’ve been told that it is unlikely that the operation will have water supplied by well and more likely that it will connect to the Parkville system. Still, I am uncertain whether drawing from the aquifer can be completely ruled out. As the owner of a well in the vicinity, obviously I am concerned about this prospect. It’s another question which should be answered before the approval process is complete.
Finally, I wonder about the level of commitment by the operators. The current high price of gold is no doubt a primary reason for the mill opening. Will the operation remain viable should the price of gold decrease substantially? Gold prices can be very volatile and often determine the status of mining operations. Will the community be left with the long term impact of this operation if the mill ceases operations?
To be complete, there is another permit in process for the Penn Mine submitted by CJK Milling. I am investigating the possible connection between the two operations as they seem to involve some of the same people and possibly the same resources.
Currently, the DRMS permitting process for Leadville Mill is nearing its conclusion. Public comments must be in by Aug. 25. The permit application documents can be reviewed at https://dnrweblink.state.co.us/drms/search.aspx?dbid=0, and the permit number is M1990057.