Mt. Emmons Mine, Colorado
U.S. Energy is proposing a large-scale molybdenum (a silvery white metal) mine in central Colorado on the flanks of the iconic Red Lady, otherwise known as Mt. Emmons. To be located just a few miles upstream from the ski town Crested Butte, it would transform a landscape renowned for its backcountry skiing, hiking, and fly fishing into a wasteland covering hundreds of acres, with land stripped to bedrock and strewn with toxic waste tailings ponds.
Listen to the Public News Service-Colorado story on how loopholes in the Clean Water Act could allow the mining industry to turn Colorado's lakes and rivers into dumping ponds for toxic waste. >>
Impacts to Communities and Wildlife
The Mt. Emmons mine would generate 6,000 tons of mined ore per day for 10.5 years, requiring extensive construction of tailings dump sites in the headwaters of Ohio and Carbon Creeks, a vast industrial complex of mills, slurry pipelines and roadways, and one or more tailings impoundments of 200 acres bounded by 200 feet tall dams.
This would have major impacts upon the local watershed, including:
- Massive amounts of waste rock, only half of which could be returned underground as backfill.
- Potential pollution and toxic runoff in a critically important water recharge area for both Ohio and Carbon Creeks.
- Potential surface subsidence and acid mine drainage.
- Destruction of 200 acres of healthy, diverse forest and wetlands that would be clear-cut and stripped to bedrock in order to construct the mine and tailings ponds.
Mine Tailings and Clean Water Don't Mix
U.S. Energy is already paying close to two million dollars a year to clean up toxic mining waste from the Keystone mine, a heavy metal mine at the same location as the proposed Mt. Emmons mine. The Keystone mine left a legacy of collapsed tailings dams and acid mine drainage, jeopardizing water quality in Coal Creek and threatening local drinking water supplies. Water flowing from the Keystone mine now requires costly and complex treatment before it can be discharged to Coal Creek.
With the same mining company operating a second mine in the same fragile watershed--but at a much greater scale--the impacts might not only affect the local environment and residents of Crested Butte; the area's network of pristine streams and wetlands could carry pollutants from the Mt. Emmons mine downstream to the town of Gunnison and eventually to Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in Colorado.
We Can Close the Mining Loopholes
As a nation, we decided that industries should not be able to profit from polluting the waters that sustain America's communities, fish, and wildlife. Help us close the two loopholes in the Clean Water Act that encourage irresponsible mining practices and irresponsible mines such as the Mt. Emmons mine in Colorado.
Urge the EPA and Army Corps to protect our nation's waters and wildlife by closing the mining loopholes in the Clean Water Act. >>