It is inevitable that large-scale, cyanide-leach mining will have issues and problems. The Buckhorn Mine is no exception. Unfortunately, the mining company and regulators have failed to adequately address the illegal discharge of contamination from the mine. These contaminants have degraded ground and surface water quality.
OHA continues to raise concerns regarding mining on Buckhorn Mountain. OHA stopped the proposed development of an open-pit mine in 2000 and continues to scrutinize the now-closed underground mine. Many of OHA’s initial concerns have become on-the-ground issues that still have to be addressed.
The Buckhorn Mine ceased production in summer 2017. The mine has not yet established or maintained a capture zone as required, and the WA Department of Ecology has failed to provide adequate regulatory oversight of the facility. OHA seeks increased management actions to reduce contaminant flow from the mine. The long-term protection of local ground and surface water must ensure that the water emanating from Buckhorn Mountain is not left contaminated.
Contamination from the Buckhorn Mine has been impacting ground and surface water since mining began.
The discharge permit requires the mining company to make the water almost as clean as it was before mining.
While the surface of the mine is beginning to heal, closure may take a long time. Water quality poses the greatest challenge in closing the mine.
The Buckhorn Mine management plans are needed to provide oversight and remediation of the ongoing water quality issues.