$34.9 million in financial securities set aside for gold mine closure
CHESAW – Owners of the Buckhorn Mountain gold mine will post an additional $12 million in securities with the state of Washington to assure adequate funds are available for environmental cleanup and restoration at the Okanogan County mine that stopped extracting ore in July.
After working several months to firm up calculations for the environmental security, the Washington Department of Ecology has approved a final closure plan with Crown Resources Corp., a subsidiary of Kinross Gold Corp.
In total, $34.9 million in environmental protection performance security will be held by the state during reclamation, as required by state law. Crown Resource’s current investment security is $22.7 million.
Contaminated water generated by the underground mine can carry high concentrations of heavy metals such as copper, lead and zinc. Routine water quality monitoring indicates the mine’s wastewater has not been adequately captured and treated since opening in 2007, and has migrated to areas outside the mine’s perimeter.
“This commitment by Crown is important because it assures taxpayers won’t be left with a costly cleanup as reclamation occurs at the mine over the next several decades,” said Heather Bartlett, Ecology’s Water Quality program manager.
Ecology anticipates the company will invest $15.1 million over the next seven years to make environmental improvements. And Crown is currently installing a new water treatment plant and recirculation system to more effectively treat water from the mine (at approximately $1.8 million).
The closure plan also acknowledges that reclamation costs could be lower in later years as conditions improve, and associated monitoring is reduced. The financial security estimate is based on projected operational costs. The environmental protection security will be revisited every two years to ensure coverage is adequate.