Iron Mountain Mine
The clickable images and aerial photographs on this page present material related to Iron Mountain Mine. Iron Mountain Mine, also known as the Richmond Mine at Iron Mountain, is a mine near Redding in Northern California. Geologically classified as a "massive sulfide ore deposit", the site was mined for iron, silver, gold, copper, zinc, and pyrite intermittently from the 1860s until 1963. The mine is the source of extremely acidic mine drainage which also contains large amounts of zinc, copper and cadmium. One of America's most toxic waste sites, it has been listed as a federal Superfund site since 1983.
The site was mined by the Mountain Copper Company, Ltd., both underground using open stope mining techniques and at the surface in the form of open pit and sidehill mining. As a result, the mountain fractured and mineral deposits were exposed to oxygen, water and certain bacteria, resulting in acidic mine drainage.
Though mining operations were discontinued in 1963, underground mine workings, waste rock dumps, piles of mine tailings, and an open mine pit still remain at the site. Historic mining activity at IMM has fractured the mountain, exposing minerals in the mountain to surface water, rain water, and oxygen. When pyrite is exposed to moisture and oxygen, sulfuric acid forms. This sulfuric acid runs through the mountain and leaches out copper, cadmium, zinc, and other heavy metals. This acid flows out of the seeps and portals of the mine. Much of the acidic mine drainage ultimately is channeled into the Spring Creek Reservoir by creeks surrounding the mine. The Bureau of Reclamation periodically releases the stored acid mine drainage into Keswick Reservoir. Planned releases are timed to coincide with the presence of diluting releases of water from Shasta Dam. On occasion, uncontrolled spills and excessive waste releases have occurred when Spring Creek Reservoir reached capacity. Without sufficient dilution, this results in the release of harmful quantities of heavy metals into the Sacramento River. Approximately 70,000 people use surface water within 3 miles as their source of drinking water. The low pH level and the heavy metal contamination from the mine have caused the virtual elimination of aquatic life in sections of Slickrock Creek, Boulder Creek, and Spring Creek.
The mine was designated a Superfund site in 1983 and a water treatment plant was built in 1994. In 2000 the government reached a settlement with Aventis CropScience (now part of Bayer) for the long-term funding of the cleanup efforts.
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Location and drainage
The mine is located at in the Klamath Mountains of Shasta County, about 9 miles northwest of Redding. The mine area is drained by several creeks which ultimately enter the Spring Creek Reservoir, formed by the Spring Creek Dam, and finally the Keswick Reservoir formed by a dam across the Sacramento River. This reservoir is a major source of drinking water for Redding.That's not all: Wikipedia contains more information about Iron Mountain Mine.