Field Trip #2

Mine Closure in Central Nevada - 3 Days - Pre-conference

This field trip is planned to provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see 30 years of mine closure work across Utah and Nevada accompanied by experienced closure specialists who actually were involved in closure work at each of the sites visit. In addition to the mine visits, during the bus rides between sites we have a program of activities that will allow the participants to share their experiences. You can tell your boss there will be very little downtime on this trip and that you will be learning continually. By working together you will make new network connections and learn from each other.

The group will meet in Salt Lake City on the evening of September 25 at the Salt Lake City Airport Hilton Garden Inn and leave on the morning of September 26, stay in Ely, Nevada on Day 1 and in Tonopah, Nevada on Day 2, and arriving in Reno on Day 3.

Dates: September 26 to September 28

Participants will be expected to bring safety boots, long sleeved shirts and long pants, high visibility clothes or vests, and safety glasses. Local (or nearby) participants are requested to bring their own hardhats (we will supply the rest).

Field Trip Price: US$1,500*

*We are offering this field trip at cost. Ground transportation from Salt Lake City to Reno, meals for three days, and four nights (Salt Lake City, Ely, Tonopah, Reno) in hotels are included in the price.

Day 1 - Salt Lake City, Utah to Ely, Nevada

On day 1, this field trip will visit one of the largest tailings impoundments in the U.S. Rio Tinto Kennecott’s Tailings Impoundments are constructed in two adjoining areas – the South Tailings Impoundment and the North Tailings Impoundment. The historical South Tailings Impoundment operated from 1906 until 2001. The impoundment is 5,700 acres (~2,300 ha) with a height of over 220 feet (67 meters), and stores 2.3 billion tons (2.1 billion metric tons) of tailings.

Beginning in 1999, tailings deposition began transitioning from the South Impoundment to the new North Impoundment. The interior surface of the South Impoundment was substantially reclaimed between 1998 and 2010. Significant portions of the North Impoundment embankment slope have been progressively reclaimed, beginning in 2011 and continuing to the present.

(for those of you who arrive early, you can visit the source of the tailings and see one of the largest man-made open-pit excavation looks like up close and personal. Visit the Rio Tinto Kennecott Visitor Experience at the Bingham Canyon Mine for more information.) 

From there the group will travel across the Bonneville Salt Flats – where numerous land speed records have been set – before turning south to McGill, Nevada. At McGill, the group will see the site of the now demolished McGill smelter and the McGill tailings impoundment (also closed).

Next the group will visit the Robinson mine just west of Ely. This mine was the source of the ore that was sent to McGill, and has been operating almost continuously since 1908. In the last 30 years, a number of progressive closure projects have been undertaken including gold heap leach closure, historic (legacy) mine facility closure, and mine-to-closure operations. Robinson has won two Nevada Excellence in Reclamation Awards for their work.

The group will spend the night in the historic district of Ely at the Nevada Hotel.

McGill, NV - mid 1900s
Rio Tinto Kennecott Copper Smelter and Tailings Impoundment
Robinson Mine - Jupiter Pond - Before and After

Day 2 - Ely, Nevada to Tonopah, Nevada

On Day 2, the group will depart Ely, Nevada and travel to the Gold Bar mine west of Eureka, Nevada. On the way, the group will pass through Eureka the location of the operating Ruby Hill Mine.

At the Gold Bar mine, the group will visit the original tailings impoundment and heap leach pad that operated between 1987 and 1990. The tailings impoundment was closed in 2005 when the owner at the time went bankrupt. The impoundment was closed using financial assurance money under a creative agreement between the state and federal agencies and the insurance company holding the financial guarantee.

After a quick stop at Hickison Petroglyphs, the trip will move on to the Kinross’ Round Mountain mine, which has also won two Nevada Excellence in Reclamation Awards for their reclamation efforts. With more than 1 billion tons in heap leach pads, this site has some of the largest heap leach pads in the world. As part of their closure design process, they have had a multi-year field-scale cover test program at the site.

After a long day, the group will stay at the Historic (and supposedly haunted) Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah with dinner hosted at the local brewery.

Revegetation Monitoring at Round Mountain
Historic Mizpah Hotel
Mizpah Hotel, Tonopah
Gold Bar Tailings Reclamation
Petroglyph at Hickison Summit
Petroglyph at Hickison Summit

Day 3 - Tonopah, Nevada to Reno, Nevada

On Day 3, the group will depart Tonopah, Nevada and travel to the nearby Tonopah copper/molybdenum mine, currently owned by Pathfinder Development Corporation.

A historic mine discovered in the late 1800’s, the site has been operated in modern times by various companies since 1979. This site won the 2001 Nevada Excellence in Reclamation Award for their voluntary reclamation work on pre-regulation waste rock dumps at the site. The current owner, Pathfinder, has continued voluntary reclamation efforts to address issues left behind by the previous owner. The site is currently being evaluated for potential re-opening.

The trip will then visit the Silver Peak lithium brine facility operated by Albemarle. We will look at a direct lithium extract (DLE) operation the requirements and discuss approaches to closing a DLE site.

After leaving Silver Valley, the group will make one more stop at the Santa Fe – Calvada mine, a small heap leach operation that was the subject of one of the key closure publications of the early 1990s. This site won the 1999 Nevada Excellence in Reclamation Award for the innovative passive management systems for heap leach pad closure.

This field trip will finish at the conference venue, the Nugget Casino Resort in Reno.

Pathfinder Tonopah Copper - Evaporation Ponds
Santa Fe - Calvada Heap Leach Pad
Silver Peak Lithium Operation

Field Trip Leader - Jeff Parshley

Jeff Parshley
Corporate Consultant (Mine Closure), SRK Consulting, USA

Jeff is a corporate consultant at SRK Consulting, with more than 40 years of North American and international mining industry experience. For over 30 years, he has worked on international closure studies that have included planning and design, cost estimating, liability audits, reclamation, and post-closure management. Jeff has overseen abandoned mine closures in the United States and has consulted on feasibility studies, mine permits, detailed mine designs, and corporate financial reporting.

Jeff has performed closure-related work for all of the mine sites that we will be visiting, going back more than more than 25 years.