A Comprehensive Assessment of Environmental Issues at the Robinson Project Porphyry Copper Mine, White Pine County, Nevada

Davis, Andy ; Deen, Jeff ; Travers, Connie ; Atkins, Dave ; Kempton, Houston ; Bloom, Mark ; Dyhr, Tim
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1995
INTRODUCTION Historical mining activities in the Robinson Mining District, in the Egan Range of east-central Nevada (White Pine County), resulted in five open pits (Veteran, Tripp, Liberty, Ruth, and Kimbley Pits), several large mine-waste dumps, and numerous underground workings developed for copper, zinc, gold, lead-silver, and manganese (Figure 1). Groundwater percolating downward through the copper sulfide ores produced a blanket-like supergene zone enriched in copper, which has been one of the primary objectives of mining since the early part of this century. To obtain permits for future operation, an EIS was conducted that evaluated future pit- lake chemistry, groundwater quantity and quality issues, transport of water and solutes subjacent to a proposed tailings impoundment, and the potential for waste dump acidification. AREA HYDROGEOLOGY The mine area is on a ridgeline draining to the Steptoe Valley to the east and to the White River Valley to the West. Precipitation in the Robinson Mining District ranges from a low of 15 cm (6 in.) per year in the valley to more than 50 cm (20 in.) per year in the surrounding mountains. Evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation, leading to a net loss of water from the basin as either surface flow or underflow to the north at Currie, Nevada (Eakin et al. 1967). The White River Valley, which lies to the south and west of the mine area, includes approximately 4,200 km2 (1,620 mi2) of the upper part of the Colorado River Basin. This valley is 112 km (70 mi) long, 32-48 km (20-30 mi) wide, and like Steptoe Valley, evaporation and transpiration exceed precipitation (Maxey and Eakin 1949). The local groundwater flow system in the Robinson Mining District and the proposed mine area is dominated by two main components: (1) a groundwater mound or high between the Ruth Pit and Murry Springs, and (2) a shallow groundwater flow divide that follows the ridge crest south of Ruth, which contains the Veteran and Tripp pits. Besides the alluvium, the main hydrostratigraphic units controlling groundwater flow are limestones, shales, and sandstones, along with the intrusive quartz monzonite stocks. Based on the piezometric surface measured in October 1993, three distinct groundwater regions were identified. In the Giroux Wash area, an apparent fault runs between WCC-G1 and WCC-
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