Summitville Mine – Development of Biotreatment Processes for Spent Ore Detoxification Test Results from Focused Feasibility Studies

Thompson, L. C. ; Fischer, R. ; Seep, A. E. ; Beckman, S. W. ; Williams, L. ; Hubbard, J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1995
Introduction The Summitville Mine located in southwestern Colorado was added to the National Priorities List in June of 1994. Summitville was the site of mining operations that began in 1873 with the discovery and development of gold placer and lode deposits in the late 1800's. The mine site is located about 25 miles south of Del Norte, Colorado in the San Juan Mountains adjacent to the Rio Grande National Forest at an approximate altitude of 11,600 feet. The site was mined for gold, silver and copper between 1873 and 1947. The Summitville Consolidated Mining Corporation, Inc. (SCMCI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Galactic Resources, Ltd of Vancouver, Canada ran a large tonnage open-pit mine and cyanide heap leach operation from 1986 to 1992 (Pendleton and Posey, 1992) During the mine operation by SCMCI, approximately 10 million tons of gold ore was mined, crushed and stacked on a lined leach pad. Heap leach operations experienced water balance and unplanned solution discharges from the start of the mine life. Despite the production of 249,000 troy ounces of gold during the mine operation, SCMCI was unable to meet remedial requirements and notified the state of Colorado of its intention to file a Chapter VII bankruptcy in December 1992. The EPA Region VIII Emergency Response Branch took over site operations on December 16, 1992 to prevent a catastrophic release of hazardous substances to the environment. The multiple contamination sources at the mine site are due to both historic and SCMCI mining operations. Emergency response operations at the site have prevented releases of severely contaminated solution and a permanent treatment for all waste units at the site is under investigation. A Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued in October 1993 by Environmental Chemical Corporation (ECC) at the Request of EPA Region VIII, Department of the Interior and Bureau of Reclamation. The RFP requested that interested companies provide information on their ability to implement innovative treatment technologies to improve treatment efficiency and reduce treatment costs for remediation of the heap leach pad (HLP) spent ore and ore leachate solutions. Dames & Moore and Pintail Systems, Inc. (PSI) jointly submitted a proposal suggesting application of biotreatment processes for detoxification of cyanide in spent ore and HLP leachate solutions. The proposal was accepted for pilot and field demonstration under the SPA Superfund Innovative Technology Demonstration Program (SITE) with additional funding from EPA Region VIII. This report discusses the test program and results of a Focused Feasibility Study which demonstrated biotreatment processes for spent ore cyanide detoxification.
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