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Action Alert

Please write to Ecology’s Director Maia Bellon

Tell Director Bellon that Ecology should not approve the mining company's required closure plan until it provides details of the mine’s proposed closure strategy and contains adaptive management elements that aim to protect and ameliorate water quality on Buckhorn Mountain.

Below are some suggested talking points:
  • The Buckhorn Mine has closed without having an Ecology-approved closure plan in place—this constitutes a violation of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
  • Ecology can and should require Kinross to submit a closure plan that includes: 
    • The closure plan should fully describe the recirculation plan. Basic elements like input and extraction of water from the underground mine, expected quantities and quality, why specific locations are proposed, should be discussed and a water balance should be provided. The recirculation plan should describe how thoroughly contaminants in isolated tunnels and fractures in the mine can be expected to be intercepted.
    • The closure plan should include adaptive management for hydrologic closure in advance of water quality problems. 
    • The closure plan should describe why a drawdown is proposed and why a water budget neutral recirculation would not be preferable to exposing potentially acid producing rock to air.
    • The closure plan does not account for contaminant accumulation from precipitation percolating through unmitigated the areas of the southwest zone where sulfate ore was extracted.
Now is a critical time in the regulatory life of the Buckhorn Mine.  Decisions made by Ecology this year will either guide the process of cleaning up a site that has continuously leaked contaminants for years, or they will create loopholes that allow the company to close and leave behind a serious threat to area water quality.  Without requiring a more detailed closure plan, a real possibility exists that the company will be able to obfuscate existing and on-going water quality problems.

When problems develop at mines, they can be very difficult to reverse. The Buckhorn Mine has been discharging contaminants into the waters of Washington State since it began operation. The mining company has failed to implement actions to curb the spread of contamination, but instead has prioritized gold extraction over their commitments to protect the water quality. Ask Ecology to help restructure the priorities at the Buckhorn Mine so that clean water is a primary concern. Abiding by the environmental regulations in Washington State helps to protect our quality of life, a basic component of our state’s economic viability. 

Send your comments to:  

Maia Bellon, Director
email:, (360) 407-7001
WA State Dept. of Ecology, 300 Desmond Drive, Lacey, WA 98503-1274

Governor Jay Inslee
360-902-4111; Office of the Governor, PO Box 40002, Olympia, WA 98504-0002