The Yerington Anaconda Mine Site
The state of Nevada in the United States is known to have a bountiful source of natural resources. One of its many cities, Yerington, is widely known in the early 1900s for its Yerington Anaconda Mine Site. The anaconda mine site, although fully functional for many years at end, is now considered as a potential health hazard for residents who live near the vicinity, and is currently undergoing bouts of cleanup drives and state funding for long term cleaning activities.
Yerington Anaconda Mine Site Description
The Yerington Mine Site is situated in Mason Valley, Yerington City, in Lyon County, Central Nevada, United States. The vicinity is reported to be approximately 65 miles southeast of Reno. Yerington Anaconda Mine Site is more or less covering about 3,400 acres of land.
Currently, Mason Valley News reports that the Yerington Mine Site is categorized by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a “Superfund” site. Due to the potential health hazards brought about by long-forgotten debris left by a scourge of buyers and sequential abandonment, the EPA is creating programs to do cleanup drives. However, since the Yerington Anaconda Mine Site is not a NPL site, the government cannot spend Superfund money to conduct long-term cleanup drives to the site, and thus calls for further action from the government.
History of the Yerington Anaconda Mine Site
In 1865, a rich source of copper was discovered in the Yerington NV district. This led to the creation of the Empire Nevada Mine and was set to begin operations in the year 1918. The copper mine site operations went smoothly for a few years, but eventually needed more funding after years of increasing demand in supplies.
In 1941, Anaconda bought the Empire Nevada Mine and changed the company’s name to what we know now as the Yerington Anaconda Mine Site. From 1952 to 1978, the mining and milling operations of the Yerington Mine Site was done through copper pit, a low grade operations copper mine site. The copper mine site processed copper oxide, as well as copper sulfide ores. What they did was to remove the ore from the pit by pumping out groundwater. The process of copper ore recovery from mine pits required the use of large quantities of sulfuric acid. The Anaconda Mine Site utilized an on-site sulfuric acid manufacturing plant, thus making it easier for them to recover the copper ores.
However, over 25 years of continuous usage of sulfuric acid and groundwater pumping in copper ore processing created liquid and solid wastes. The Yerington Mine Site produced more or less 360 million tons of debris from the open pit operations. This resulted in 400 acres of waste rock, 300 acres of ponds with disposable debris, and 900 acres of contaminated tailings. Among the waste products produced are waste water rock areas, tailing piles, liquid waste ponds, heap leach pads, evaporation ponds, and leach vats.
In 1978, the market for copper ore was declining, leading to decreased copper prices and
lower import prices. Natural copper ore resources started to deteriorate, and the quality of the copper ore generated declined. This led to the closure of Anaconda in the same year.
Thereafter, Atantic Richfield Company (ARC) bought the Yerington Anaconda Mine Site. However, the cease in operations in Anaconda led also the stopping of the groundwater pumping .This resulted in a vast pit lake, measuring to about 180 acres, 1 mile in length, 800 feet depth with 500 feet of water. Mason Valley News reports that the pond water increases at the rate of 10 feet annually.
ARC went operational until the year 1982, when Don Tibbals purchased the Yerington Anaconda Mine Site. Tibbals conducted a few operations in the mine site, and leased portions to different companies. During the time of tenure of Don Tibbals, some areas of the mine site was utilized for metal salvage and transformer recycling. Furthermore, some portions were also used for recovering copper from the tailing and waste piles.
In 1988, the site was sold to Arimetco and begun leaching operations. The leaching operations eventually led to heap leach pads for the production of copper, using tailings left by the Anaconda operations. However, in 1997, Arimetco lost funds for operations and went bankrupt, leaving to the abandonment of the site 3 years after.
The Yerington Anaconda Mine Site – Current Status
Currently, the Yerington Mine Site is considered as a threat to the environment and overal health status of residents living near the vicinity, as a significant amount of contaminants in groundwater, surface water, air, and soil and sludges are detected by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The current status of the Yerington Anaconda Mine Site being a health and environmental hazard may be attributed to the following entities:
Atlantic Richfield Company (ARC) – Atlantic Richfield Company is an oil company who purchased the Yerington Anaconda Mine Site in 1941, and may be held responsible for abandoning the site without proper management of the debris and waste products, with a significant amount of remnants from the previous owners. The owned the copper mine site from 1941 until the year 1982. The ARC merged with the Anaconda Copper Mining Company (AMC) in 1977, and is officially known as the BP West Coast Products LLC.
Unison Transformer Services – In the 1990′s, the Unison Transformer Services leased a portion of the Yerington Anaconda Mine Site for the main purpose of salvaging and recycling transformers left by the previous operations of the mine site. They went operational in the 1900′s that left contaminated areas with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which are considered as harmful substances both to the environment, wildlife, and human health.
Armiteco – 1988, Armiteco bought the Yerington Anaconda Mine Site from Don Tibbals and built additional facilities to revive the operation activities of the site. However, in 2000, the company went bankrupt and ceased operations. Armiteco is also known as Arizona Metals Company, a Tucson, Arizona-based entity.
Don Tibbals – Don Tibbals, together with his wife, Joy, are locals in Yerington NV. They purchased Yerington Mine Site in 1982 and leased portions of the site to various companies. They also developed Weed Heights, a residential parcel in the outskirts of the property.