What is the Holden mine site remediation?
It's a multi-million dollar effort to clean up contaminants (potential threats to human and environmental health) that were left from the Howe Sound Holden Mine era. Rio Tinto, one of the world's largest mining groups, is managing and paying for the cleanup under the supervision of the U.S. Forest Service. More than 120 acres, largely across Railroad Creek from Holden Village, are included in the affected area.
What's involved in the cleanup?
The cleanup (also called remediation or mitigation) is largely concerned with keeping contaminants out of the ground water and the surface water—namely, Railroad Creek. A large amount of earth moving and construction is involved in capturing the water that comes in contact with the tailings left from the mine and other contaminated areas. The water is then being purified in a water-treatment plant before being discharged back into the environment. The project has also included massive reshaping of the tailings piles.
What is the timetable for the cleanup?
After two years of "Early Works" projects, heavy construction began in 2013 and concluded in 2016. During the construction seasons (generally May through November, depending on weather) Holden Village was not able to welcome guests, but housed and fed up to 250 mine construction workers. The Village used this time to upgrade Village infrastructure and facilities. After remediation construction was complete, a period of testing and analysis began to determine whether further work will be necessary in the eastern portion of the affected area.
Did Holden Village close during the mine cleanup?
No! The opportunities to visit Holden Village were different, especially during summer. Throughout the remediation era, the efforts of volunteers onsite have been especially welcome.
What has the Village done during the cleanup?
The remediation era has been an opportunity to support the cleanup effort and make facility improvements, ensuring that the Village will function efficiently well into the future. In support of the cleanup, the Village has been transformed back into a mining town—housing, feeding and taking care of the mine remediation workers. At the same time, the Village continued to be supported by hundreds of volunteers. They have handled much-needed repairs to buildings, electrical systems and waterworks. They've also provide ongoing support for Holden's multifaceted programs.
Will the Village look changed after the cleanup is finished?
The Village will look fresh, but it will not really change. The Village is required to abide by federal regulations governing historical sites. Holden, which operates under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service, must retain the original, industrial look of its mining era. The surrounding areas—specifically, across Railroad Creek—will look quite different. The mill structure has been removed, the tailings are graded and being capped. Thousands of trrees were planted and structures were erected in 2017 and 2018.