December 1994
           U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
              Office of Solid Waste
              Special Waste Branch
               401 M Street, SW
              Washington, DC 20460

                              Disclaimer and Acknowledgements

This document was prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The mention of
company or product names is not to be considered an endorsement by the U.S. Government or by the

This Technical Document consists  of nine sections. The first is EPA's overview of mining and the
statutory and regulatory background. That is followed by a description of mining activities and their
potential environmental impacts. The remaining sections cover specific environmental concerns,
environmental monitoring, and pollution prevention. Also provided are a list of contacts, glossary, and
references. This report was distributed for review to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of
Mines, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service; the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
Forest Service; Western Governors Association; and other industry and public interest groups.

The use of the terms "extraction," "beneficiation," and "mineral processing" is not intended to classify
any waste stream for the purposes of regulatory interpretation or application.  Rather, these terms are
used in the context of common industry terminology.

                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

      INTRODUCTION  	2-1
      EXTRACTION	2-1

      INTRODUCTION  	3-1
           NEPA DOCUMENTATION	3-22







                                                   Background for NEPA Reviewers
                             LIST OF EXHIBITS




                              LIST OF TABLES


                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                          CHAPTER I


The primary purpose of this document is to assist Federal and state officials in providing scoping
comments on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents for non-coal mining activities
proposed on Federal lands.  Pursuant to NEPA and Section 309 of the Clean Air Act, EPA reviews and
comments on environmental impact statements (EISs) prepared for proposed major Federal agency
actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. This document is constructed to
assist the Federal or State reviewer in considering those issues most appropriate to a specific type of
mining operation in the development of NEPA/Section 309 comments.

This document is not intended to be all-inclusive.  Rather, it focusses on EPA's major concerns with
surface water and groundwater, air, and sensitive receptors.  This document does not restate traditional
NEPA concerns about impacts on floodplains, endangered species, and wetlands  since they may occur at
any development. Further, the document does not discuss human health risks associated with mining
practices, since such risks are site-specific. The document is intended to address all major non-coal
mining sectors, including gold and silver, phosphate, and base metals (lead, zinc, copper, tin, and
mercury).  In addition, key terms are defined in both a technical and regulatory context.  For example, the
term "beneficiation" has a codified regulatory definition which differs from the definition used in the

The document is organized to provide a general description of site operations, potential environmental
impacts, possible prevention/mitigation measures, and the types of questions that should be asked in
reviewing a proposed mining operation. Mines and mining operations are designed and operated to
account for very site-specific conditions. Therefore,  site-specific environmental consequences may
result. Thus, the reviewer may have to conduct additional analyses to understand projected impacts more


Mining  operations consist of excavation (extraction in pits, underground mine workings) to remove ore;
beneficiation units, such as mills, for upgrading or concentrating ore; and processing facilities for further
purification of the metal from the concentrate. Not all of these activities are necessarily conducted at
every mine site.

Generally, mines have extraction units that are pits or underground workings, and beneficiation units that
are used to crush and size ore and concentrate or separate the valuable minerals from the less valuable
material. Mining operations may also maintain processing units on-site, such as smelters and/or
refineries that are used to refine or process the mineral into the desired  mineral product.  In addition,
mining sites maintain units to manage wastes generated during their operations. Mining operations
generate extremely large quantities of wastes.  Overburden and waste rock are the non-liquid wastes
generated in largest volumes by  extraction activities; tailings and spent ore are generated by
beneficiation; and slag is generated through processing.

Surface and underground mining are the two most common types of mining conducted; however, there
are two  other types of mining, placer and in situ.  Surface mining methods most commonly employed for
the extraction of metals are known as "open-pit" and "open-cut." Placer mining (including dredging) is
used to mine and concentrate surficial sands and gravels. Underground mining techniques use adits and
shafts for access and a variety of mining methods. Although surface and underground mines usually
operate  independently, underground techniques may be used before or after surface methods are
employed.  In situ mining involves the use of solvents (lixiviants) such  as water, acids, or alkalies that are
injected into an undisturbed ore body to leach and remove the valuable minerals. Major wastes generated
by extraction include waste rock and mine water (if it is discharged).

Beneficiation procedures are used to increase the percentage of the desired mineral in the concentrate by
separating the metal-bearing minerals from the non-valuable gangue (tailings). The  separation is based
on one or more differences between the mineral and the rest of the mined material, such as density or
chemical nature. Wastes generated from beneficiation operations include tailings, spent lixiviant, excess


                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
process water, and spent ore (a form of tailings produced by leaching). Tailings ponds or piles are
created as disposal sites for tailings. Spent ore is often left in piles and spent lixiviant may be recycled or
neutralized and land-applied on-site.

Mineral processing of ores may also be conducted at the mine site (or at off-site locations).  Processing
operations often follow beneficiation operations and include techniques that change the chemical makeup
of the ore or mineral, such as chemical digestion, electrolytic refining, and pyrometallurgical/thermal
processes (roasting or smelting) in order to produce actual metal. Unlike extraction and beneficiation,
ore processing generally produces wastes that bear little or no resemblance to the materials that enter the


Mining operations are subject to a wide range of Federal, state, and local requirements. Many of these
require permits before the mining operations commence, while some require approvals or consultations,
mandate the submission of various reports, and/or establish specific prohibitions or performance-based
standards. The following sections describe the purposes and broad goals of major Federal statutes.  The
discussion for each statute also provides an overview of the requirements and programs that are
implemented by the respective implementing agencies.

Clean Water Act

The objective of the Clean Water Act (CWA)(33 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1376) is to "restore and maintain the
chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters" (§101(a)). This is to be accomplished
through the control of both point and nonpoint sources of pollution (§101(a)(7)). A number of
interrelated provisions  of the Act establish the structure by which the goals of the Act are to be achieved.
Within this overall structure, a variety of Federal and State programs are implemented to meet the Act's

Under §303, states are responsible for establishing water quality standards for waters under their
jurisdictions: these are the beneficial uses that various waters are to support and the numeric (and
narrative) criteria that must be achieved to allow these uses to be met.  Water quality standards serve as a
basis both for identifying waters that do not meet their designated uses and for developing effluent limits
in permitted discharges. EPA also establishes nonbinding numeric water quality criteria as guidance;
when states fail to adopt sufficient water quality standards, EPA may do so.

Under §402 of the Act, all point source discharges  of pollutants to navigable waters of the United States
must be permitted under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).  The term
"point source" means "any discernible, confined, and discrete conveyance, including but not limited to
any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated
animal feeding operation, or vessel or other floating craft, from which pollutants are or may be
discharged" (CWA §502(14)). Effluent limits in NPDES permits may be either technology- or water
quality-based. For various categories of industries, EPA establishes National technology-based effluent
limitation guidelines pursuant to §§301, 306, and 307.  More stringent water quality-based permit limits
may be established when technology-based limits do not result in achievement of water quality standards.
Additionally, states may establish effluent limits based on a "non-degradation"  principle which does not
allow for the receiving stream to be degraded from previously existing conditions.

EPA's NPDES regulations (40 CFR 122.21(1)) require prospective dischargers (in states without an
approved NPDES program) to submit information to the EPA Region, prior to beginning on-site
construction. Review of this information allows EPA to make a determination as to whether the facility
is a new source. The Region must then issue a public notice of the determination.  If the facility is
determined to be a new source, the issuance of the NPDES permit by EPA is subject to NEPA and the
applicant and EPA must comply with the environmental review requirements of 40 CFR Part 6 Subpart

EPA has established National technology-based effluent limitation guidelines for ore mining and dressing
operations (40 CFR Part 440). These include new source performance standards based on the Best
Available Demonstrated Technology (BADT), since new plants can install the best and most efficient


                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                         EXHIBIT 1-1
Runoff/drainage discharges subject to
40 CFR Part 440 effluent limitation guidelines
Mine drainage limits
Land application area '
Crasher area '
Spent ore piles ', surge piles, ore stockpiles, waste
rock/overburden piles
Pumped and unpumped drainage and mine water from
pits/underground mines
Seeps/French drains '
On-site haul roads, if constructed of waste rock or spent
ore or if wastewater subject to mine drainage limits is
used for dust control
Tailings dams/dikes when constructed of waste
rock/tailings '
Unreclaimed disturbed areas
Mill discharges limits (including zero
discharge limits)
Land application area '
Crusher area '
Spent ore piles ', surge piles, waste rock/overburden piles
Seeps/French drains '
Tailings impoundment/pile
Heap leach runoff/seepage
Pregnant, barren, overflow, and polishing ponds
Product storage areas (e.g., concentrate pile)
Subject to storm water permitting
(not subject to 40 CFR Part 440)
Topsoil piles
Haul roads not on active mining area
On-site haul roads not constructed of waste rock or spent ore
(unless wastewater subject to mine drainage limits is used
for dust control)
Tailings dams/dikes when not constructed of waste
rock/tailings '
Concentration/mill building/site (if discharge is storm water
only, with no contact with piles)
Reclaimed areas released from reclamation bonds prior to
Partially/inadequately reclaimed areas or areas not released
from reclamation bond
Most ancillary areas (e.g., chemical and explosives storage,
power plant, equipment/track maintenance and wash
areas, etc.)
 1  Point source discharges from these areas are subject to 40 CFR Part 440 effluent limitation guidelines for (a) mills if
    process fluids are present or (b) mine drainage if process fluids are not.
production processes and wastewater treatment technologies. In general, the effluent limitations address
mine drainage and mill discharges.  Exhibit 1-1 provides examples of point source discharges that are
subject to mine drainage and mill discharge limits (and examples of those that are subject to storm water

§402(p)(2)(B) (added by the Water Quality Act of 1987) required that point source discharges of storm
water associated with industrial activity be permitted by October 1, 1992.  Pursuant to this requirement,
EPA's storm water program requires that all point source discharges of storm water associated with
industrial activity, including storm water discharges from mining activity, be permitted under the NPDES
program. "Storm water" is defined at 40 CFR 122.26(b)(13) as "storm water runoff, snow melt runoff,
and surface runoff and drainage." "Storm water associated with industrial activity" is defined at
§ 122.26(b)(14) as "the discharge from any conveyance which is used for collecting and conveying storm
water and which is directly related to manufacturing, processing, or raw materials storage areas at an
industrial plant. . .."  It also includes discharges from "areas where industrial activity has taken place in
the past and significant materials remain and are exposed to storm water." There are no New Source
Performance Standards for storm water discharges, so the issuance of an NPDES permit for storm water
discharges (or the coverage by an existing permit of a new or previously unpermitted discharge) may not
trigger NEPA.

§404 of the Clean Water Act addresses the placement of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S.
and has become the principal tool in the preservation of wetland ecosystems.  "Jurisdictional wetlands"
are those subject to regulation under §404. Jurisdictional wetlands are those that meet the criteria
defined in the  1987 Corps of Engineers Wetlands  Delineation Manual (USAGE, 1987).  Regulatory

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
authority for §404 is divided between the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and EPA. §404(a)
establishes the requirement for the Corps to issue permits for discharges of dredged or fill materials into
waters of the United States at specific disposal sites. Disposal sites are to be specified for each permit
using the §404(b)(l) guidelines; the guidelines were established by EPA in conjunction with the Corps.
Further, §404(c) gives EPA the authority to veto any of the permits issued by the Corps under §404.  In
practice, EPA rarely exercises its veto power as it typically reviews and provides comments on §404
permits prior to their issuance, and any disputes are resolved at that time.

Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act (CAA) (42 U.S.C. §§7401-7626) requires EPA to develop ambient air quality
standards  as well as standards for hazardous air pollutants.  The Act also imposes strict performance
standards  applicable to new or modified sources of air pollution, a stringent approval process for new
sources of pollution in both  attainment  and non-attainment areas, and emission controls on motor

Under §109, EPA has established national primary and secondary ambient air quality standards for six
"criteria" pollutants.  These are known  as the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQSs). The
NAAQSs set maximum concentrations  in ambient air for lead, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon
monoxide, suspended particulate matter of less than 10 microns in diameter, and ozone.  States and local
authorities have the responsibility for bringing their regions  into compliance with NAAQSs or more
stringent standards they may adopt. This is accomplished through the development and implementation
of State Implementation Plans (SIPs), which are EPA-approved plans that set forth the pollution control
requirements applicable to the various sources addressed by each SIP.

Under §111, EPA has promulgated New Source Performance Standards (NSPSs) applicable to metallic
mineral-processing plants (40 CFR Part 60, Subpart LL). A processing plant is defined as "any
combination of equipment that produces metallic mineral concentrates from ore; metallic mineral
processing commences with the mining of the ore." However, all underground processing facilities are
exempt from the NSPSs. Also, NSPS particulate emission concentration standards apply only to stack

In addition to the NSPSs, Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) provisions are intended to ensure
that NAAQS are not exceeded in those  areas that are in attainment for NAAQSs.  Under this program,
new sources are subject to extensive study requirements if they will emit (after controls are applied)
specified quantities of certain pollutants.

State programs to meet or exceed Federal NAAQSs are generally maintained through permit programs
that limit the release of airborne pollutants from industrial and land-disturbing activities.  Fugitive dust
emissions from mining activities may be regulated through these permit programs (usually by requiring
dust suppression management activities).

As indicated above, only six criteria pollutants are currently regulated by NAAQSs. Several other
pollutants are regulated under National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs).
NESHAPs address health concerns that are considered too localized to be included under the scope of
NAAQSs. Prior to the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, EPA had promulgated
NESHAPs for seven pollutants: arsenic, asbestos, benzene,  beryllium, mercury, vinyl chloride, and
radionuclides (40 CFR Part  61).

The CAA Amendments of 1990 substantially revised the existing statutory provisions of the CAA. The
Amendments require that states develop air emission permit programs for major sources (these will
supplement SIPs) and dramatically expand the air toxics (i.e., NESHAPs)  program to address 189
specific compounds.  Under the Amendments, Congress required EPA to establish stringent, technology-
based standards for a variety of hazardous air pollutants, including cyanide compounds.  In November
1993, EPA published a list of source categories and a schedule for setting standards for the selected
sources. Among the mining-related industry groups that have been identified as sources of hazardous air
pollutants are the ferrous and non-ferrous metals processing industries,  and the minerals products
processing industry (58 FR 63952; 12/3/93). Under the amended air toxics program, if a source emits
more than 10 tons per year of a single hazardous air pollutant or more than 25 tons per year of a


                                                                Background for NEPA Reviewers
combination of hazardous air pollutants, the source is considered a "major source." Major sources are
required to use the Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) to control the release of the
pollutants (CAA § 112). The CAA Amendments also intensify the requirements applicable to
nonattainment areas.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

The Solid Waste Disposal Act was amended in 1976 with the passage of the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA)(42 U.S.C. §§6901-6992k). Under Subtitle C of RCRA, EPA has established
requirements for managing hazardous wastes from their generation through storage, transportation,
treatment, and ultimate disposal. Hazardous wastes include specific wastes that are listed as such under
40 CFR §261 Subpart D as well as other wastes that exhibit one or more EPA-defined "characteristics,"
i.e., reactivity, corrosivity, ignitability, and toxicity.  Other solid wastes (which can be solid, liquid, or
gaseous) that are not hazardous wastes are subject to Subtitle D, under which EPA establishes criteria for
State management programs, approves State programs, and can provide  funding for State
implementation. EPA has promulgated specific criteria for municipal solid wastes and more general
criteria for all nonhazardous solid wastes.

The scope of RCRA as it applies to mining waste was amended in 1980 when Congress passed the Bevill
Amendment, RCRA §3001(b)(3)(A). The Bevill Amendment states that "solid waste from the
extraction, beneficiation, and processing of ores and minerals" is excluded from the definition of
hazardous waste under Subtitle C of RCRA (40 CFR §261.4(b)(7)). The exemption was conditional
upon EPA's completion of studies required by RCRA §8002(f) and (p) on the environmental and health
consequences of the disposal and use of these wastes. EPA then conducted separate studies of extraction
and beneficiation wastes and mineral processing wastes (including smelting and refining wastes).  EPA
submitted the results of the first study in the 1985 Report to Congress: Wastes from the Extraction and
Beneficiation of Metallic Ores, Phosphate Rock, Asbestos, Overburden From Uranium Mining,  and Oil
Shale (EPA, 1985b). In July 1986, EPA made a regulatory determination that regulation of extraction
and beneficiation wastes as hazardous wastes under Subtitle C was not warranted (51 FR 24496; July 3,

EPA reported its findings on mineral processing wastes from the studies required by the Bevill
Amendment in the 1990 Report to Congress: Special Wastes From Mineral Processing (EPA, 1990).
This report covered 20 specific mineral processing wastes.  In June 1991, EPA issued a regulatory
determination (56 FR 27300; June 13, 1990) stating that regulation of these 20 mineral processing wastes
as hazardous wastes under RCRA Subtitle C is inappropriate or infeasible.  Eighteen of the wastes are
subject to applicable State requirements.  The remaining two wastes (phosphogypsum and phosphoric
acid process waste water) are currently being evaluated by EPA. Five additional types of wastes are
listed as hazardous wastes and must be managed as such; other than these and the 20 wastes exempted in
1991, mineral processing wastes are subject to regulation as hazardous waste if they exhibit one or more
hazardous waste characteristics.

EPA interprets the exclusion from hazardous waste regulation to encompass only those wastes that are
uniquely associated with the extraction and beneficiation of ores and minerals.  Thus, the exclusion does
not apply to  wastes that may be generated at a mine site but that are not uniquely associated with mining.
For example, waste solvents are listed as a hazardous waste under 40 CFR §261.31 (Hazardous Wastes
from Nonspecific Sources); they are generated at mining sites as a result of cleaning metals parts.
Because this activity (and this waste) is not uniquely associated with extraction and beneficiation
operations, such solvents must be managed as any other hazardous wastes, subject to the Federal
requirements in 40 CFR Parts 260 through 271, or State requirements if the State is authorized to
implement the RCRA  Subtitle C program. In practice, most mine sites generate relatively modest
quantities of hazardous wastes.

Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. §§1531-1544) provides  a means whereby ecosystems
supporting threatened  or endangered species may be conserved as well as a program for the conservation


                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
of such species.  Section 7 of the ESA requires Federal agencies to ensure that all Federally associated
activities within the United States do not have adverse impacts on the continued existence of threatened
or endangered species or on critical habitat that are important in conserving those species.  Agencies
undertaking a Federal action must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which
maintains current lists of species that have been designated as threatened or endangered, to determine the
potential impacts a project may have on protected species.  The National Marine Fisheries  Service
undertakes the consultation function for marine and anadromous fish species while the USFWS is
responsible for terrestrial (and avian), wetland and fresh-water species.

The USFWS has established a system of informal and formal consultation procedures; these must be
undertaken as appropriate in preparing an EA or EIS.  Many states also have programs to identify and
protect threatened or endangered species other than Federally listed species. An EIS must be prepared if
"any major part of a new source will have significant  adverse effect on the habitat" of a Federally or
state-listed threatened or endangered species (40 CFR 6.605(3)). If a Federally listed threatened or
endangered species  may be located within the project area and/or may be affected by the project, a
detailed endangered species assessment (Biological Assessment) may be prepared independently or
concurrently with the EIS and included as an appendix.  States may have similar requirements for
detailed biological assessments as well.

National Historic Preservation Act

Where mining activities involve a proposed Federal action or Federally assisted undertaking, or require a
license from a Federal or independent agency, and such activities affect any district,  site, building,
structure, or object that is included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places,
the agency or licensee must afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable
opportunity to comment with regard to the undertaking. Such agencies or licensees are also obligated to
consult with state and Native American Historic Preservation Officers responsible for implementing
approved state programs.

As provided for in 40 CFR 6.605(b)(4), issuance of a new source NPDES permit that will have
"significant direct and adverse effect on a property listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register
of Historic Places" triggers the preparation of an EIS. Many proposed mining operations are located in
areas where mining has occurred in the past. Particularly in the west, states and localities are viewing the
artifacts of past mining (e.g., headframes, mill buildings, even waste rock piles) as valuable evidence of
their heritage. Since modern mining operations can damage remnants of historic operations, care must be
taken to identify valuable cultural resources and mitigate unavoidable impacts.

Mining Law of 1872

The Mining Law of 1872 (30 U.S.C. §§22-54) establishes the conditions under which citizens of the
United States can explore and purchase mineral deposits and occupy and purchase the lands on which
such claims are located. The basic provision of the law provides that:

       Except as otherwise provided, all valuable mineral  deposits in lands belonging to the
       U.S.  ... shall be free and open to exploration and purchase, and the lands in which they
       are found to occupation and purchase, by citizens of the U.S. . . . under regulations
       prescribed by law, and according to the local  customs or rules of miners in the several
       mining districts, so far as the same are applicable and not inconsistent with the  laws of
       the U.S.

The Mining Law establishes the basic standards  for the location, recording, and patenting of mining
claims. In general, persons are authorized to enter Federal lands and establish or locate a claim to a
valuable mineral deposit (originally, nearly all minerals but now a much more restricted number, as
described below). Once a claim has been properly located (and, since 1976, recorded with BLM), the
claimant gains a possessory right to the land for purposes of mineral development and thereafter retains
the claim if small amounts of development work are done or small fees are paid. Upon proving that a
valuable mineral deposit has been discovered, claim holders may patent the claim and purchase the land
for nominal sums. Except as specifically authorized by law (e.g., certain inholdings), land  management
agencies have no further jurisdiction over patented lands. Mining claims, whether patented or not, are


                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
fully recognized private interests that may be traded or sold. The possessory interest is considered
private property subject to Fifth Amendment protection against takings by the United States without just
compensation. The standards set in the Mining Law may be supplemented by local law not in conflict
with the Mining Law or State law.

Over time, various laws have restricted the minerals that are subj ect to location under the Mining Law;
restrictions were generally not retroactive but were subject to valid existing rights.  "Locatable" minerals
subject to location of claims under the Mining Law now include most metallic minerals (except uranium)
and some nonmetallic minerals. In addition, certain Federal lands have been or may be closed to mineral
development, subject to valid existing rights (these include the National Parks and National Monuments,
among other lands). In addition, only "public domain" lands are generally open to mineral location under
the Mining Law.

Federal Land Policy Management Act

The Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) (43 U.S.C. §§1701-1782) provides the Bureau of
Land Management (BLM) with authority for public land planning and management, and governs such
disparate land use activities as range management, rights-of-way and other easements, withdrawals,
exchanges, acquisitions, trespass, and many others. FLPMA declares it to be the policy of the United
States to retain lands in public ownership (i.e., rather than "disposing" of the lands by transferring
ownership to  private parties) and to manage them for purposes of multiple use and sustained yield.
Under §202, BLM must develop and maintain plans for the use of tracts or areas of the public lands. To
the extent feasible, BLM must coordinate its land use planning with other Federal, State,  and  local
agencies. BLM also must provide  for compliance with "applicable" pollution control laws (including
Federal and State  air, water, and noise standards and implementation plans) in the development and
revision of land use plans. The overall protective standard is provided in §302(b), under which BLM is
to take any necessary action, including regulation, to prevent "unnecessary or undue degradation" of
public lands.  Subject to this  and several more limited exceptions, nothing in FLPMA "shall in anyway
amend the Mining Law of 1872 or impair the rights of any locators of claims under that Act, including,
but not limited to, rights of ingress and egress" (§302(b)).

BLM regulations (43 CFR Group 3800) impose a number of broad requirements upon operations on
BLM-managed lands, but contain few specific technical standards. The basic compliance standard is that
operations must be conducted so as to prevent unnecessary or undue degradation of the lands  or their
resources, including environmental resources and the mineral resources themselves. According to 43
CFR §3809.0-5(k), "unnecessary or undue degradation" means surface disturbance  greater than what
would normally result when an activity is being accomplished by a prudent operator in usual,  customary,
and proficient operations  of similar character and taking into consideration the effects of operations on
other resources and land uses, including those resources and uses outside the area of operations. Failure
to initiate and complete reasonable mitigation measures, including reclamation of disturbed areas, may
constitute unnecessary or undue degradation. Finally, failure to comply with applicable environmental
protection statutes and regulations  constitutes unnecessary and undue degradation.

BLM's implementing regulations pertaining to development of mining claims include three levels of

       •       Casual use—for which no notification or approval is necessary

       •       Notice-level—for cumulative annual disturbances that total less than five acres.
               Operators must notify BLM officials (and commit to reclamation),  but no approval is
               required.  Consultation may be required if access routes are to be constructed.

       •       Approval-level—for disturbances exceeding 5 acres in a calendar year or any
               disturbance in certain specified areas (wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers,  critical
               habitat, areas of the California Desert Conservation Area).  Operators must obtain BLM
               approval  (within specified timeframes) of a  plan of operations for such disturbances.

A plan of operations must describe in detail the site and the proposed operation, including measures that
will be taken to prevent undue and unnecessary degradation and to reclaim the site to regulatory


                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
standards. Reclamation must include salvaging topsoil for later use, erosion and runoff control, toxic
materials isolation and control, reshaping the area, reapplication of topsoil, and revegetation (where
reasonably practical). BLM may require operators to furnish bonds (site-specific or blanket) or cash
deposits, with the amount left to the responsible official (policy now calls for full reclamation bonding
for cyanide and other chemical leaching operations, and a similar policy is anticipated to be issued for
potentially acid-generating mines). Following approval of a plan of operation, BLM may monitor the
operation to ensure that the approved plan is being followed. Failure to follow approved plans of
operations, or to reclaim lands, may result in a notice of noncompliance, which in turn can lead to
injunctive relief.

Plans of operations may be modified at BLM's request or at the operator's behest. Significant
modifications follow the same review and approval procedures as original plans.  Proposed plans of
operations (and modifications) are reviewed by BLM "in the context of the requirement to prevent
unnecessary and undue degradation and provide for reasonable reclamation" (§3809.1-6(a)).

Upon receipt of a proposed plan of operations (or modification), BLM must conduct an environmental
assessment (or supplement). This EA is used to assess the adequacy of proposed mitigation measures
and reclamation procedures to prevent unnecessary and undue degradation.  The EA then leads to a
Finding of No Significant Impact (with or without stipulations) or to the preparation of an EIS  and
Record of Decision. If the proposed operation is to be issued a new source NPDES permit and is in a
State where EPA is the permitting authority, or in other cases where EPA has significant environmental
concerns, EPA typically becomes a cooperating agency in the NEPA process.  In any event, EPA has the
opportunity to review all EISs pursuant to §309 of the Clean Air Act.

National Park  System Mining Regulation Act

The National Park System Mining Regulation Act (also known as the Mining in the Parks Act, or MPA)
(16 U.S.C. §§1901-1912) reconciles the recreational purpose of the National Park System with mining
activities affecting park lands.  The Act subjects mining activities within the National Park System to
such regulations as deemed necessary by the Secretary of the Interior. It also required that all mining
claims within the park system be recorded by September 1977, or become void.

The National Park Service has extensive regulations governing exercise of valid existing mineral rights
(36 CFR Part 9  Subpart A). The regulations restrict water use, limit access, and require complete
reclamation.  They also require that operators obtain an access permit and approval of a plan of
operations prior to beginning any activity. A plan of operations requires specific site and operations
information, and may require the operator to submit a detailed environmental report. Operators must
comply with any applicable Federal, State, and local laws or regulations.

Organic Act; Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act; National  Forest Management Act

The Organic Act of 1897 (16 U.S.C. §§473-482,  551) has governed the Forest Service's activities since
the earliest days of National Forest management. The Act delegates broad authority over virtually all
forms of use in  the National Forest System. It also provides for continued State jurisdiction over
National Forest lands. Finally, it declares that forests shall remain open to prospecting, location, and
development under applicable laws, and that waters within the boundaries of the National Forests maybe
used for domestic mining and milling, among other uses.

The Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 1960 (MUSYA) (16 U.S.C. §§528-531) established that the
National Forest System is to be managed for outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and fish and
wildlife purposes, and that these purposes are supplemental to the purposes for which the National
Forests were established as set forth in the Forest Service Organic Legislation (16 U.S.C. §§475, 477,
478, 481, 551).  MUSYA provides that the renewable surface resources of the National Forests are to be
administered for multiple use and sustained yield of products and services. Nothing in MUSYA is
intended to affect the use or administration of the mineral resources of the National Forest lands (16
U.S.C. §528). Section 530 of the MUSYA authorizes the Forest Service to cooperate with State and
local governments in managing the National Forests.  The National Forest Management Act of 1976
provides the Forest Service with authorities and responsibilities similar to those provided to BLM by

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
FLPMA. It establishes a planning process for National Forests that in many ways parallels the process
established under FLPMA for BLM lands.

Forest Service regulations  (36 CFR Part 228) are broad and similar to BLM's in that they impose few
specific technical standards.  In all cases where the land's surface is to be disturbed, operators must file a
notice of intent.  For significant disturbances (i.e., where mechanized equipment or explosives are to be
used), operators must submit a proposed plan of operations. Forest Service regulations concerning plans
of operations and their review and approval, reclamation standards, and environmental review are similar
to those described for BLM above. Like BLM's regulations, they require compliance with the Clean
Water Act and other environmental statutes and regulations.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
Mineral Leasing Act; Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands

The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (MLA) (30 U.S.C. §§181-287) and the Mineral Leasing Act for
Acquired Lands (1947) (30 U.S.C. §§351-359) create a leasing system for coal, oil, gas, phosphate, and
certain other fuel and chemical minerals ("leasable" minerals) on Federal lands.  In addition, §402 of
Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1946 (and other authorities) authorizes leases for locatable minerals on
certain lands (e.g., some  acquired lands, as opposed to public domain lands).  Under the leasing system,
the government determines which acquired lands will be available for mineral development.  The
Department of the Interior has promulgated extensive regulations governing various aspects of leases.
BLM may issue competitive, noncompetitive, and preference right leases that set the terms, including
environmental terms, under which mineral development can take place. Prior to lease issuance, BLM
must consult with the appropriate surface managing agency (e.g., the Forest Service), and for acquired
lands must have the written consent of the other agency.  Regulations require compliance with Federal
and State water and air quality standards, and failure to comply with lease terms can result in lease
suspension or forfeiture.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                         CHAPTER II

                          DESCRIPTION OF MINING ACTIVITIES


This chapter presents a brief technical description of the processes and activities associated with metal
and phosphate ore mining as currently practiced in the United States. The chapter has been divided into
five sections: (1) ore extraction; (2) beneficiation; (3) mineral processing; (4) ancillary operations; and
(5) waste management practices. Since many of the practices for mining various metal ores are similar,
this chapter describes general concepts of ore mining and ore beneficiation which apply to one or more  of
the commodity sectors. Exhibit 2-1

                                                            Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                      EXHIBIT 2-1
Gold Placer
Mining Type
• Surface
• Underground
• In Situ (experimental)
• Surface
• Underground
• Surface
• Underground
• In Situ
• Surface (almost
• Underground
• Surface
• In Situ
• Surface
• Surface
• Underground
• Surface
• Cyanidation
• Elution
• Electrowinning/Zinc Precipitation
• Milling
• Base Metal Flotation
• Smelting
• Amalgamation (historic)
• Gravity Separation
Fine Separation
• Some Magnetic Separation
• Milling
• Flotation
• Sintering
• Smelting
• Milling
• Flotation
• Smelting
• Acid Leaching
• SX/EW Recovery
• Iron Precipitation/Smelting
• Milling
• Magnetic Separation
• Gravity Separation
• Flotation
• Agglomeration
• Blast Furnace
• Milling
• Leaching
• Solvent Extraction/Ion Exchange
• Precipitation
• Crushing
• Washing
• Drying
• Bayer Process
• Electrolytic Reduction
• Milling
• Flotation
• Smelting
• Washing
• Sizing
• Flotation
• Heavy Media Separation
• Elemental Phosphorus Furnace
• Acid Digestion (Phosphoric Acid
Primary Wastes & Materials
Mine Water1
Overburden/Waste Rock
Spent Process Solutions
Spent Ore
• Mine Water1
• Overburden/Waste Rock
• Tailings
• Mine Water1
• Overburden/Waste Rock
• Tailings
• Mine Water1
• Overburden/Waste Rock
• Tailings
• Spent Ore
• Spent Leach Solutions
• Mine Water1
• Overburden/Waste Rock
• Tailings
• Mine Water1
• Overburden/Waste Rock
• Tailings
• Spent Leach Solution
• Mine Water1
• Overburden/Waste Rock
• Mill Wastewater
• Red Mud
• Mine Water1
• Overburden/Waste Rock
• Tailings
• Overburden
• Waste Rock
• Tailings
• Mill Washwater/Wastewater
• Spent Media
• Phosphogypsum
1  Mine water is a waste if it is discharged to the environment via a point source.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
 summarizes the principal mining type, beneficiation process, and associated wastes for each major
hardrock mining sector.


A wide variety of techniques are used to extract minerals from the earth. In general, mining consists of
removing ore and associated rock or matrix in bulk form from a deposit and transporting it away from the
mined site. In the interests of economic efficiency, the extraction process is designed to remove ore of a
predetermined grade or higher, leaving behind lower-grade material and barren rock, if at all practicable.
In practice, an ideal separation is not often possible, so that some lower-grade rock is mined and some
higher-grade ore is left behind. Although mining processes may be classified according to the numerous
techniques that are employed in removing ore, they can be broken down into two broad categories
associated with the general setting of a mining operation: (1) surface mining or open-pit processes; and
(2) underground mining processes.

Surface Mining

Surface mining techniques are used for most of the major metallic ores in the United States. This is the
method of choice when the ore deposit is near the surface, or is of sufficient size to justify removing
overburden. At present, this is the most economical way of mining highly disseminated (lower-grade)
ores.  Surface mining methods typically used for ore extraction are described below.

Open pit mining involves ground excavation and ore removal from the resulting pit. Depending on the
thickness of the ore body, it may be removed as a single vertical interval or in successive intervals, or
"benches." In resistant materials, the procedure usually employed involves mining each bench by drilling
vertical shot holes from the top of the bench, and then blasting the ore onto the adjacent lower level. The
broken ore and waste rock then is loaded into trucks or rail cars for transport to a mill or waste rock
dumps. In less resistant materials, the ore may be excavated by scrapers or digging machinery without
the use of explosives.

The depth to which an ore body is mined depends on the ore grade, nature of the overburden, and the
"stripping ratio." The stripping ratio is the amount of overburden and waste rock that must be removed
for each unit of crude ore mined and varies with the mine site and the ore being mined. Note that, the
cut-off grades at a given mine may change with the price of the ore, thus leading to more or less waste
rock being disposed as the stripping ratio changes.  Waste rock with ore concentrations just below the
"cut-off grade (i.e., the grade at which ore can be recovered economically) may be stockpiled separately
from other waste rock. The primary wastes associated with open pit mining include mine water, waste
rock,  and overburden.

Placer deposits associated with watercourses or beaches (either current or ancient) can be mined by
surface open pit methods, but in some cases can be better accessed by dredging. Although there were no
known commercial dredges operating in the United States as of the  1990s, the practice, which for hard
materials uses a mechanical digging system to break up and excavate the deposit, may be in use
elsewhere. The primary wastes associated with placer mining include mine water and tailings (which
closely resemble waste rock generated in other sectors).

Underground Mining

Historically, underground mining was the major method used for the extraction of many metal ores,
however, it is now much less commonly used in hardrock mining  in the United States.  There are
numerous variations and combinations of underground mining techniques which have been developed in
response to specific or unusual characteristics of the ore body. In general, underground mining involves
sinking a shaft or "driving a drift" near the ore body to be mined and extending horizontal passages
("levels") from the main shaft at various depths to the ore.  Mine development rock is removed, while
sinking shafts, adits, drifts, and cross-cuts, to access and exploit the ore body. From deep mines, broken
ore (or "muck") is removed from the mine either through shaft conveyances or chutes and hoisted in
skips (elevators). From shallow mines, ore may be removed by train or conveyor belt.  Wastes associated
with underground mining include mine water and mine development rock (waste rock).

                                                                   Background for NEPA Reviewers
In situ mining1 is a method of underground mining that is applicable to certain ores under certain
geohydrologic conditions. In situ mining involves mining a deposit in place using a lixiviant to leach the
desired material from the deposit. When the deposit is not sufficiently permeable, blasting may be used
to fracture the ore body. In buried ore bodies, leaching solution is injected through a well into the ore
zone. At surface ore bodies, the solution can simply be sprayed over the deposit. Recovery wells (or old
underground workings) are used to collect the pregnant solution after it percolates through the ore.

In situ leaching is currently used in the uranium and copper industries. In situ techniques have also been
used experimentally in the gold industry. Use of in situ methods has obvious geochemical restrictions
based upon the amenability of the ore minerals to being solubilized and the cost and practicality of
solvents, and based on concerns related to groundwater quality. Hydrologic requisites include: (1) the
host rock must be permeable to circulating fluids; and (2) the host rock must be overlain and underlain by
impermeable formations or rock units that restrict the vertical flow of fluids. Wastes associated with in
situ mining include spent leaching solutions.


Most ores contain valuable metals disseminated in a matrix of less valuable rock called "gangue"
(pronounced gang). The purpose of ore beneficiation is to separate valuable minerals from the gangue
yielding a product much higher in content of the valued material. To accomplish this, ore generally must
be crushed and/or ground small enough so that each particle is composed predominantly of the mineral to
be recovered or of gangue.  This separation of the particles on the basis of some difference in physical or
chemical properties between the ore mineral and the gangue yields a concentrate high in values, as well
as waste (tailings) containing very low concentrations of values.

Many properties are used as the basis for separating valuable minerals from gangue, including: specific
gravity, conductivity, magnetic permeability, affinity for certain chemicals, surface tension, solubility,
and the tendency to form chemical complexes. Because of their widespread usage throughout the mining
industry, descriptions of flotation (i.e.,  conventional milling) and leaching processes are provided below.


Prior to flotation, run-of-mine ores are reduced in particle size by crushing and/or grinding techniques.
Crushing is commonly performed sequentially:  first with jaw type crushers and, then, with cone crushers
and screens which reduce the particles to approximately 3/4 inch.  Grinding may then occur in ball or rod
mills or in autogenous mills.  Grinding is usually performed with the addition of water and the resulting
slurry is then pumped to the flotation circuit. Froth flotation is a process in which the addition of
chemicals to an ore slurry causes particles of one mineral or group of minerals to adhere preferentially to
air bubbles.  When air is forced through a  slurry of mixed minerals, the rising bubbles carry with them
the particles of the mineral(s) to be separated from the matrix. If a foaming agent is added to prevent the
bubbles from bursting when they reach the surface, a layer of mineral-laden foam is built up at the
surface of the flotation cell which may be removed to recover the mineral (or, in some cases, the gangue).
Requirements for success of the operation are small particle size (typically flour-sized or less), use of
reagents compatible with the mineral to be recovered,  and water conditions in the cell which do not
interfere with the attachment of reagents to minerals or to air bubbles.

Although the exact specifications for adequate flotation are highly variable, a complex system of reagents
is generally used, including five basic types of compounds: pH conditioners (regulators, modifiers),
collectors, frothers, activators, and depressants. Collectors serve to attach ore particles to air bubbles
formed in the flotation cell. Frothers stabilize the bubbles to create a foam which may be effectively
recovered from the water surface. Activators enhance the attachment of the collectors to specific kinds
of particles, while depressants prevent such attachment. Activators are frequently used to allow flotation
of particular minerals that have been depressed at an earlier stage of the milling process. In almost all
cases, use of each reagent in the mill is generally less than 0.5 kg (approximately 1 Ib.) per ton of ore
   'Note that under RCRA, in situ mining is actually included in the definition of beneficiation operations, see
Chapter VIII-Glossary.

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
processed; however, at large-capacity mills, the total reagent usage can be high, since thousands of tons
of ore per day may be beneficiated.

Sulfide minerals are all readily amenable to flotation using similar reagents in small doses, although
reagent requirements and ease of flotation vary throughout the mining industry class. Sulfide minerals of
copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum, silver, nickel, and cobalt are commonly recovered by flotation. In
addition to sulfides, other types of minerals maybe recovered by flotation (e.g., oxidized ores of iron,
copper, manganese, the rare earths, tungsten, titanium, phosphate, columbium, and tantalum). The
primary wastestream associated with flotation/conventional milling is tailings.


Leaching is the process of extracting a soluble metallic compound from an ore by selectively dissolving it
in a suitable solvent such as water, sulfuric or hydrochloric acid, or cyanide solution. The desired metal
is then removed from the "pregnant" leach solution by chemical precipitation or another chemical or
electrochemical process.  Leaching methods include "heap," "dump," and "tank" operations. Heap
leaching is widely used in the gold industry, and dump leaching in the copper industry; leaching
operations in these two sectors  are discussed in detail below.


The predominant methods used in the U.S. to beneficiate gold ore involve cyanidation. This technique
uses solutions of sodium cyanide or potassium cyanide to recover precious metals (gold and silver) from
the ore.  Cyanide heap leaching is generally used to recover gold from low-grade ore while "tank"
leaching is used for higher grade ore.

Heap Leaching. Since the late 1970s, heap leaching has developed into a cost-effective procedure to
beneficiate a variety of low-grade, oxidized gold ores. Compared to conventional cyanidation (i.e., tank
leaching), heap leaching has several advantages, including simplicity of design, lower capital and
operating costs, and shorter startup times. Depending on the local topography, a heap or a valley fill
method is typically employed.  The sizes of heaps and valley fills can range from a few acres up to
several hundred acres. The design of these leaching facilities and their method of operation are quite
site-specific and may vary over time at the same site.

Heap leaching activities may involve any or all of the following steps (Bureau of Mines, 1978 and 1984;
van Zyl, 1988; many others):

       •       Preparation of a "pad" (or base under the heap) with an impervious liner on a 1° to 6° or
               greater slops for drainage. No gold heap or valley fill leaches are known to operate
               without a liner (Hackel, 1990). Some liners may simply be compacted soils and clays,
               while others maybe of more sophisticated design, incorporating clay liners, french
               drains, and multiple synthetic liners.

       •       Placement of historic tailings, crushed ore, or other relatively uniform and pervious
               material on the uppermost liner to protect it from damage by heavy equipment or other
       •       Crushing and/or agglomerating the ore (agglomeration is discussed below), typically to
               between  1/2 and 1 inch in size, if necessary and cost-effective; some operations may
               leach run-of-mine ore.

       •       Placing the ore on the pad(s) in lifts using trucks, bulldozers, conveyors,  or other

       •       Applying cyanide solution using drip, spray, or pond irrigation systems, with application
               rates generally between 0.5 and 1.0 pounds of sodium cyanide per ton of solution. This
               is known as the "barren" solution because it contains little or no gold.

        •       Collecting the solution intercepted by the impervious liner via piping laid on the liner,
               ditches on the perimeter of the heap, or pipes/wells through the heap into sumps at the

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
               liner surface. The recovered pregnant solution, now laden with gold (and silver), may be
               stored in ponds or routed directly to tanks for gold recovery, or it may be re-applied to
               the heap for additional leaching.

        •       Recovering the gold from the pregnant solution (typically containing between 1 and 3
               ppm of gold).

Leaching usually continues until the gold concentration in pregnant solution falls below about 0.005
ounces per ton of solution (Lopes and Johnston, 1988). When leaching ends, the spent ore may then be
left in place (over which new lifts may be added) or detoxified and removed from the pad for disposal in
a spent ore pile.  The leaching cycle can range from weeks to several months, depending on the
permeability, size of the pile, and ore characteristics.  The "average/normal" leach cycle is approximately
three months (Lopes and Johnston, 1988).

Recovery of gold from the pregnant solution is accomplished using carbon adsorption or, less commonly,
by direct precipitation with zinc dust (known as the Merrill-Crowe process). These techniques maybe
used separately or in a series with carbon adsorption followed by zinc precipitation. Both carbon
adsorption and zinc precipitation separate the gold-cyanide complex from the noncomplexed cyanide and
other remaining wastes. Other less common techniques used to recover gold values include solvent
extraction, direct electrowinning, and, more recently, ion exchange.

Carbon adsorption uses the Carbon-in-Column (CIC) technique in which the pregnant solution is pumped
into a series of cascading columns containing activated carbon.  The activated carbon collects gold from
the cyanide leachate until it contains between 100 and 400 ounces of gold per ton of carbon, depending
on the individual operation.  The precious metals are then stripped from the carbon by elution with the
use of a boiling caustic cyanide stripping solution (1.0 percent NaOH and 0.1 percent NaCN) or other
similar solutions. Gold in the pregnant eluate solution may be electrowon or zinc precipitated.

Electrowinning (or electrodeposition) uses stainless or mild steel wool, or copper, as a cathode to collect
the gold product. After two  or more cycles of electrodeposition, the steel wool must be removed. The
steel wool or electrowinning sludge, laden with gold value, is fluxed with sodium nitrate, fluorspar,
silica, and/or sodium carbonate and melted in a crucible furnace for casting into bullion.

Although carbon adsorption/electrowinning is the most common method of gold recovery in the United
States, zinc precipitation is the most widely used method for gold ore containing large amounts  of silver.
Because of its simple and efficient operation, the Merrill-Crowe process is used at the 10 largest gold
producing mines in the world, all of which are in South Africa.  In zinc precipitation operations, pregnant
solution (or the pregnant eluate stripped from the activated carbon) is filtered and combined with metallic
zinc dust resulting in a  chemical reaction which generates a gold precipitate (Bureau of Mines, 1984).
The solution is forced through a filter that removes the gold metal product along with any other
precipitates.  The gold precipitate recovered by filtration is often of sufficiently high quality (45 to 85
percent gold) that it can be dried and smelted in a furnace to make dore (unrefined metals).

Wastes  associated with gold heap leaching activities include spent ore, spent leaching solutions,
electrowinning sludges, and detoxification rinse water.

Tank Leaching. Tank leaching techniques for gold recovery are preferred over heap leaching for
higher-grade ores, typically those with gold values averaging over 0.04 troy ounces per ton of ore.  In
tank leaching operations, primary leaching takes place in a series of tanks, often in the mill building,
rather than in heaps. Finely ground gold ore is slurried with the leaching solution in tanks. The resulting
gold-cyanide complex is then adsorbed on activated carbon.  In the Carbon-in-Pulp (CIP) method,
leaching and adsorption occur in two separate series of tanks; in the Carbon-in-Leaching (CIL) method
they occur in a single series. In either, the pregnant carbon then undergoes elution, followed either by
electrowinning or zinc precipitation, as described previously. The recovery efficiencies attained by tank
leaching are significantly higher than for heap leaching.

Both the CIP and CIL methods produce fine tailings, which are generally pumped to an impoundment.
The composition of the tailings reflects the characteristics of the ore body, along with small (but
sometimes significant)  amounts of residual cyanide. In some cases, the tailings maybe treated to

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
neutralize cyanide prior to disposal.  Other wastes generated by facilities that use tank leaching include:
spent leaching solutions, electrowinning sludges, and detoxification rinse water.

Copper Dump Leaching

Solution mining techniques are being used increasingly for the recovery of copper and currently account
for approximately 30 percent of domestic copper production.  Two-thirds of all United States copper
mines employ various types of solution operations (Weiss, 1985).  Sulfuric and hydrochloric acid
leaching at atmospheric pressure are the most common types of copper leaching.

Dump leaching refers to the leaching of oxide and low-grade sulfide ore in (typically) unlined piles.
Copper dump leaches are frequently massive, with piles ranging in size from 20 to hundreds of feet in
height and often covering hundreds of acres and containing millions of tons of ore. These operations
involve the addition of leaching solution, collection of pregnant leach solution (PLS), and the extraction
of copper by SX/EW or cementation. Natural precipitation/mine water are generally used to leach low
grade sulfide ore, while dilute sulfuric acid is commonly used to leach oxide ores. Since widespread
application of the leaching process is a relatively new process, copper mines have frequently applied
leaching techniques to recover values from historic waste rock dumps. Thus, collection of PLS may not
be maximized (i.e., some PLS may escape to the environment). New dump leach units are typically
located and designed to prevent or minimize the loss of leach  solution. Once collected, copper is
commonly recovered from PLS in one of two ways; SX/EW or cementation.

The solvent extraction (SX) process is a two-stage method; in the first stage, low-grade, impure leach
solutions containing copper, iron,  and other base-metal ions are fed to the extraction stage mixer-settler.
In the mixer, the aqueous solution is contacted with an active  organic extractant (chelating agent) in an
organic diluent (usually kerosene), forming  a copper-organic complex. The organic phase extractant is
formulated to extract only the desired metal ion (i.e., copper), while impurities  such as iron or
molybdenum are left behind in the aqueous phase.  The barren aqueous solution, called raffinate, is
typically recirculated back to the leaching units while the loaded organic solution is transferred from the
extraction section to the stripping  section. In the second stage, the loaded organic solution is stripped
with concentrated sulfuric acid solution (spent electrolyte) to produce a clean, high-grade solution of
copper for electrowinning.

Electrowinning (EW) is the method used to  recover copper from the electrolyte solution produced by
solvent extraction. Copper is plated on cathodes of stainless steel or on thin-copper starting sheets and
the cathode copper is then shipped to a rod mill for fabrication. The spent acid is recycled and pumped
back to the leaching operation, while some of the electrolyte is pumped to the solvent extraction process
(Office of Technology Assessment, 1988; Engineering and Mining Journal, 1990).

In the past, copper produced from  leach solutions was typically recovered by cementation techniques. In
the cementation process, PLS flows to a precipitator pond filled with scrap iron or steel.  The copper
chemically reacts with, and precipitates onto the steel surfaces. The iron is dissolved into solution, and
the copper precipitates out (i.e., replaces) the iron.  While cementation has been a source  of relatively
inexpensive copper, the cement copper produced is relatively  impure compared to electrowon copper and
must be smelted and refined along with flotation concentrates (Beard,  1990). As a result, it has largely
been replaced by  SX/EW technology.  Wastes associated with copper dump leaching operations include
spent ore, spent leaching solutions, and SX/EW sludges.


The following paragraphs provide brief descriptions of some of the most common mineral processing
practices currently employed in the United States in the alumina, copper, elemental phosphorus, ferrous
metals (iron), lead, and phosphoric acid industry sectors.  Mineral processing operations for minerals
which are mined and processed predominantly as by-products (e.g., silver) are not discussed separately.
Additionally, minerals such as gold, which may be completely or partially refined as part of the
beneficiation process, are not discussed. Much of the information presented in this section was obtained
from EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards document (EPA, 1985a) and the Report to
Congress on Special Wastes from  Mineral Processing (EPA, 1990).

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
Alumina Processing

Bauxite ore is purified to produce alumina (A12O3) by the Bayer process and then is reduced to elemental
aluminum. The production of alumina and the reduction of alumina to aluminum is seldom performed at
the same facility.  The production of alumina from bauxite ore using the Bayer process generally follows
five steps. First the bauxite ore is dried, crushed, and screened and then mixed with a caustic alkaline
solution (NaOH). The second step is the routing of slurried ore to digesters, where the aluminum is
heated and solubilized as sodium aluminate (Na2Al2O3).  In the third step, the solution is cooled and
purified. Purification is performed by separation and washing to remove sodium hydroxide and other
impurities (known collectively as red mud).  The fourth step is the precipitation of the cooled and
purified aluminum hydroxide using sodium hydroxide  seed crystals. The aluminum hydroxide
precipitate is filtered, then concentrated by evaporation, resulting in a filter cake. The fifth and final step
is the calcination of the hydroxide filter cake to produce a crystalline form of alumina, advantageous for

Electrolytic reduction of alumina occurs in shallow rectangular cells, or "pots," which are steel shells
lined with carbon.  Carbon electrodes extending into the pots serve as the anodes and the carbon lined
steel shell is the cathode.  Molten cryolite functions as both the electrolyte and the solvent for the
alumina. Electrical resistance to the current passing between the electrodes generates heat and the
resulting molten aluminum is deposited onto the cathode. The aluminum product is periodically tapped
below the cryolite bath and fluxed to remove trace impurities.

Wastes associated with alumina processing and aluminum production include red mud (including
residual water) and particulates from ore grinding and  calcining during alumina processing; and gaseous
and particulate hydrogen fluoride, alumina, carbon monoxide, volatile organics, and sulfur dioxide from
the aluminum reduction operations.

Copper Processing

Primary copper processing operations include, in general, roasting, smelting, converting, fire refining in
an anode furnace, and electrolytic refining. The products from each operation, respectively, are calcine,
copper matte, blister copper, copper anodes, and refined copper. Smelting involves the  application of
heat to a charge of copper ore concentrate, scrap, and flux, to fuse the ore and allow the separation of
copper from iron and other impurities.  Although several types  of smelting furnaces are used in the
United States, all furnaces produce two separate molten streams: copper-iron-sulfide matte and slag.
Slag from some smelting operations may have copper concentrations higher than the original ore and
therefore may be sent to a concentrator and the concentrate returned to the smelter. The copper matte
from the smelter is typically routed hot to the converter furnace where high-silica flux and compressed
air or oxygen are introduced. Most of the remaining iron combines with the silica to produce converter
slag and additional air or oxygen is  blown in to oxidize the sulfur and convert copper sulfide to blister
copper, which can be 99 percent pure.  The sulfur dioxide gas stream reports to an acid  plant for sulfuric
acid production.

To purify blister copper further, fire refining and electrolytic refining are used.  In fire refining, blister
copper is placed in an anode furnace, flux is usually added, and air is blown through the molten mixture
to oxidize remaining impurities, which are removed as slag. The fire refined copper is cast into anodes;
further electrolytic refining separates copper from impurities by electrolysis in a solution containing
copper sulfate and sulfuric acid. The copper is dissolved from the anode and deposited at the cathode
which can later be remelted to produce bars, ingots, or slabs which are 99.95 to 99.97 percent pure.

Wastes associated with copper processing include smelter slag; particulate and sulfur dioxide emissions;
and process water from cooling, general wash-down activities,  and air pollution control devices (scrubber

Elemental Phosphorus Processing

Elemental phosphorus is used as a process input to produce a wide array of phosphorus  chemicals. As a
chemical manufacturing feedstock, it may be used directly, or oxidized and condensed to produce a high-
purity "furnace-grade" phosphoric acid (see phosphoric acid production discussed below). In elemental

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
phosphorus processing, sized phosphate rock or sintered/agglomerated phosphate rock fines are
introduced into an electric arc furnace together with coke (a reducing agent) and silica (a flux) . The
phosphorus within the rock is both liberated from the matrix and chemically reduced by the operation.
The process generates calcium silicate slag and ferrophosphorus, which are tapped from the bottom of
the furnace in molten form, and carbon monoxide (CO) off-gases, which contain volatilized phosphorus.
The gas is treated using a precipitator to remove impurities and the cleaned gas, still containing the
gaseous phosphorus, is condensed using water to produce liquid elemental phosphorus.

Wastes associated with elemental phosphorus processing include furnace slag; phosphoric acid mist;
phosphoric acid scrubber water; and process wastewaters.

Phosphoric Acid Production

There are two processes for producing phosphoric acid: (1) the wet process, and (2) the thermal (furnace)
process.  The wet process is employed when the acid is to be used for fertilizer production, while the
thermal process is employed when a higher purity acid is required for high grade chemicals and food
products.  The wet process consists of three operations: digestion, filtration, and concentration.
Beneficiated phosphate rock is fed to a reactor with 93 to 98 percent sulfuric acid, which decomposes the
phosphate rock. The product of this operation is a slurry that consists of the phosphoric acid (32 percent)
and a suspended solid, calcium sulfate, commonly known as phosphogypsum.  The slurry is routed to a
filtration operation where the suspended phosphogypsum is separated from the acid solution. The acid
isolated during filtration is concentrated through evaporation to produce "merchant-grade" (54  percent)
phosphoric acid.  The phosphogypsum is directed to settling ponds.

In the thermal process, elemental phosphorus is burned (oxidized) in a combustion chamber to form
phosphorus pentoxide. The phosphorus pentoxide is hydrated with dilute acid or water to produce
phosphoric liquid acid and mist. The final step is to remove the phosphoric acid mist from the  gas stream
by precipitation.  The thermal process usually yields a product of 75  to 85 percent phosphoric acid.

Wastes generated during the wet process include phosphogypsum; process wastewater; gaseous fluorides
(silicon tetrafluoride and hydrogen fluoride); and a small amount of particulate matter from process
equipment and filters.  The primary wastes generated during the thermal process are phosphoric acid mist
and process waters from cooling and air pollution control devices.

Ferrous Metals Processing

Ferrous metals processing consists of smelting and iron and steel production. Iron ore, limestone, flux,
coke, and recycled flue dust and sinter are usually fed to an updraft sintering machine which prepares the
ore for smelting.  The resulting charge is fed to a blast furnace (95% of which  are submerged electric arc
furnaces) which consists  of a refractory-lined steel shaft in which a charge is continuously added to the
top through a gas  seal. Iron and steel scrap may also be added in small amounts. Preheated air is blown
into an area near the bottom of the furnace. The coke is combusted to produce carbon monoxide, the iron
ore is reduced to iron by the carbon monoxide, and the silica and alumina in the ore and coke ash are
fluxed with limestone to form a slag that absorbs much of the sulfur from the charge. Molten iron and
slag are intermittently tapped from the bottom of the hearth. The slag is drawn off and the product, pig
iron, is removed, cooled, and crushed and transported to a steel mill operation.  Steelmaking processes
convert pig iron, scrap, or direct-reduced iron, or mixtures of these, into steel in a basic oxygen furnace
that lowers the  carbon and silica content and removes impurities.

Wastes associated with ferrous metals and ferroalloy processing include blast and basic oxygen furnace
slag; particulate, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and organic emissions; and process waters from
cooling, general wash-down activities, and air pollution control devices (scrubber blowdown).

Lead Processing

Primary lead processing consists of smelting (blast furnace and dross furnace operations) and refining
operations.  Ore, limestone, flux, coke, recycled flue dust, and sinter are usually fed to an updraft
sintering machine which prepares the ore for smelting by lowering the sulfur content by nearly 85
percent.  Sintering also provides sulfur dioxide gas for sulfuric acid production.  In the smelting process,

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
sintered ore concentrate is introduced into a blast furnace along with coke, limestone, and other fluxing
materials; the lead is reduced, and the resulting molten material separates into four layers: speiss and
matte, two distinct layers of materials which contain recoverable concentrations of copper, zinc, and
minor metals; blast furnace slag; and lead bullion (98 percent lead). The speiss and matte are either
processed at the smelter for their metal content or sold to copper smelters for recovery of copper and
precious metals. The lead bullion is then drossed to remove lead and other metal oxides, which solidify
and float on the lead bullion. The solidified material (referred to as dross), is treated in a reverberatory
furnace to concentrate the copper and other metal impurities before being routed to copper smelters for
their eventual recovery. The lead bullion is further refined by operations which continue the process of
removing various saleable metals and impurities. The refined lead is then cast into ingots for
Wastes associated with lead processing include blast and dross furnace slag; process wastewaters
generated from cooling and general wash-down activities, and air pollution control devices (scrubber
blowdown); and particulate, sulfur dioxide, lead, and organic emissions.


This section provides an overview of the waste and materials management practices typically used in the
mining industry.  Selection of individual approaches is highly dependent on site-specific conditions.
Further, wastes and meterials are commonly co-managed in on-site units.

Mine Water

Water removed from a mine to gain or facilitate access to an ore body is known as "mine water." Mine
water can originate from precipitation, flows into pits or underground workings, and/or groundwater
aquifers that are intercepted by the mine. Mine water is only a waste if it is discharged to the
environment via a point source. Mine water can be a significant problem at many mines, and enormous
quantities may have to be pumped continuously during operations. When a mine closes, removal of mine
water generally ends.  However, underground mines can then fill (or partially fill) and mine water may be
released through adits, or through fractures and fissures that reach the surface.  Surface mines that extend
below the water table fill to that level when pumping ceases, either forming a "lake" in the pit or
inundating and saturating fill material. Pumped mine water is typically managed in on-site
impoundments (often within the mine workings or  tailings impoundments). Collected water may be
allowed to infiltrate/evaporate, used as process make-up water  or for other on-site applications such as
dust control, and/or discharged to surface water subject to NPDES requirements.

Mine water can have environmentally significant concentrations of heavy metals and TDS, elevated
temperatures, and altered pH, depending on the nature of the ore body and local geochemical conditions.
In addition, mine  water can acidify over time as sulfide minerals are exposed to water and air, resulting in
acid mine drainage (AMD); the potential for acid drainage can cause significant threats to surface and
groundwater quality/resources during active mining and for decades after operations cease.
Waste Rock

Both underground and surface mining operations generate "waste rock." Waste rock consists of non-
mineralized and low-grade mineralized rock removed from above or within the ore body during
extraction activities. Waste rock is typically disposed in large piles or dumps in close proximity and
down-slope of the point of extraction. Waste rock dumps may be loosely categorized as valley fills, cross
valley fills, side-hill fills, or heaped fills (or piles) (British Columbia Mine Dump Committee, 1991).
Each of these names derives from the particular topographical feature exploited for waste containment.
Regardless of the layout of the unit, waste rock dumps are generally constructed on unlined terrain, with
underlying soils stripped, graded, or compacted depending on engineering considerations.  Such
conditions may include steep  foundations of unconsolidated material or partially saturated terrain that
may not support the weight of fill material.  Rock is generally hauled to the face of the unit in trucks or
by conveyor systems and then dumped. Surface grading of fill material is typically performed to provide

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
haulage trucks access to the working face. Most commonly, waste rock is deposited at the angle-of-

Depending on site hydrology and regulatory constraints, drainage systems may be incorporated into
dump foundations. In areas of groundwater intrusion or where catchment areas channel substantial
surface water flows into the dump, drainage systems help to prevent instability due to foundation failures
from saturation (BCMDC, 1991). Drainage systems may be constructed of gravel-filled trenches or
gravel blankets, with capacity and configuration determined according to site-specific conditions.  Dump
toe drains may be particularly favored to reduce pore pressure near the face of the structure to prevent toe
spreading or local slumping.


Most  of the ore extracted at hardrock mines ultimately becomes mill tailings requiring disposal. Because
tailings produced by mills are usually in slurry form, disposal of slurry tailings in impoundments made of
local materials is the most common and economical method of disposal. There are four main types of
slurry impoundment layouts: valley impoundments, ring dikes, in-pit impoundments, and specially-dug
pits (Ritcey, 1989). The impoundment design choice is primarily dependent upon natural topography,
site conditions, and economic factors.  Other things being equal, it is economically advantageous to use
natural depressions to  contain tailings.  Among other advantages are reduced dam size, since the sides of
the valley or other depression serve to contain tailings.

There are two general  classes of impounding structures: water-retention dams and raised embankments.
The choice of impounding structure is influenced by economics and site-specific factors including the
characteristics of the mill tailings and effluent. In general, impoundments are  designed to control the
movement of fluids both vertically and horizontally. Regardless of the layout  of the impoundment, at
most facilities ponded water is decanted from tailings ponds and recirculated to the mill for reuse in
beneficiation processes. In general, two methods are available for decanting pond water: decant towers
and pumping (usually  from floating barges). In some cases, tailings are dewatered or dried and disposed
of in piles. However,  except under special circumstances, dry disposal methods can be prohibitively
expensive due to additional equipment and energy costs.  The advantages of dry disposal include
minimizing seepage volumes, the land needed for an impoundment or pile, and the ability to conduct
simultaneous tailings deposition and reclamation.

In addition to disposal in impoundments and piles, slurried tailings are sometimes disposed of in
underground mines as  backfill to provide ground or wall support. This  decreases the above-ground
surface disturbance and can stabilize mined-out areas. To increase structural stability, cement may be
mixed with the sand fraction before backfilling. Subaqueous tailings disposal, which has been practiced
primarily in Canada, is the placement of tailings below a permanent water surface such as a lake or
ocean. Subaqueous disposal is practiced primarily to minimize the acid generating potential of tailings
by not allowing sulfide ore to oxidize.

Leaching Operations

When leaching operations cease, the spent ore  in the heap or dump is usually managed in place. Where
on-off pads are used, however, spent ore is removed from heap leach pads for  disposal in on-site piles or
dumps (similar to waste rock dumps).  Prior to final reclamation (or prior to ore removal from on-off
pads), spent ore generally must be detoxified.  This is typically accomplished by repeated rinsing with
water, usually mine water or mill wastewater.  At gold leaching operations, hydrogen peroxide or other
oxidants may be added to rinse waters to oxidize residual cyanide. The time necessary for rinsing heaps
is highly variable, ranging from a few days  for some on-off heaps to months or years for other heaps and

Following detoxification, heaps and dumps may be regraded to more stable long-term configurations. If
present, liners maybe  punctured and the heap/dump covered with topsoil and reclaimed. In some  cases,
heaps/dumps may require capping to reduce leaching of heavy metals.  Because of the large volumes of
materials typically placed in heap/dump units, any potential  long-term environmental problems
(associated with waste management) should be investigated  and addressed during initial unit design
rather than after leaching ceases and materials become wastes.

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
Solution ponds are potential sources of acid/metal releases to ground and surface water. Ponds
associated with precious metal leaching operations and newer copper facilities are generally lined with
synthetic materials (although liners are often susceptible to failure). At older copper sites, solution ponds
may be unlined or lined only with natural materials. At closure, ponds are frequently backfilled. Pond
liners may be removed, folded over and sealed to encapsulate sludges or other wastes, punctured, or
otherwise handled, depending on applicable regulatory requirements.

When leaching operations cease, non-cyanide bearing leach solutions may either receive simple
neutralization or pH adjustment and metals precipitation treatment.  Cyanide-bearing solutions typically
receive some form of cyanide destruction and neutralization treatment.  These treated wastestreams may
then be allowed to infiltrate/evaporate or may be re-applied to disturbed mine areas.

Mineral Processing Wastes and Materials

Slags from thermal mineral processing operations (copper and lead smelting and refining, blast furnaces,
and elemental phosphorus production) are generally managed in unlined, on-site piles.  Depending on the
industry sector and the specific waste characteristics, significant quantities may  be available for re-use in
construction applications. For example, all of the slag produced by several elemental phosphorus
operations is  sold for off-site re-use.

Phosphogypsum and phosphoric acid production wastewater are co-managed in  "phosphogypstacks."
These massive units have historically been unlined to  allow drainage through the stacks. The pH of stack
water is typically less than one (reflecting residual phosphoric and sulfuric acid). Recycle/re-use
alternatives for phosphogypsum have generally proven to be unfeasible and/or uneconomical.

Red muds from alumina production are disposed of in impoundments. Existing  waste management units
typically have runon/runoff controls and some have leachate collection systems  (to address seepage).
While research suggests that red muds could potentially be reused (as a blast furnace feed, in
construction applications, etc.), little or no red mud waste has been re-used to date.


In addition to the wastes  described above, extraction, beneficiation, and processing of minerals generate
other wastes that are not uniquely related to mining, such as spent solvents and used oil. Large mining
operations may operate hundreds of vehicles ranging in size from light trucks to immense earth moving
vehicles. Vehicle and equipment maintenance activities generate large quantities of used oils and
lubricants, solvents, antifreeze, tires, and wash waters. Raw material storage for maintenance activities
also requires that large inventories must be maintained, including above and underground fuel tanks. If
the facility is regulated by a storm water permit, a Spill Prevention Countermeasure and Control  (SPCC)
plan as well as a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) are required.

In addition to the wastes  already mentioned, wastes not uniquely related to mining include but are not
limited to: PCBs (transformers, capacitors, and/or hydraulic fluid); vessel cleanouts; tank bottoms;
empty or crushed drums; filters; pigging wastes; sewage/sanitary wastewaters; fossil fuel boiler wastes (
boiler blowdown, refractory brick ash, etc.); water pollution control sludges, blowdown, etc.; air
pollution control dusts, sludges, filters, etc.; drilling fluids/muds; solid wastes (i.e., garbage);
construction and demolition wastes; filter washing wastes;  and laboratory wastes.

These wastes, as well as hazardous mineral processing wastes, may be commingled with Bevill wastes
such as tailings,  in tailings ponds or other units.  Aside from possible RCRA compliance issues,
managing these wastes in mining units may cause potential impacts to the environment. Where
applicable, management of these wastes should be specifically addressed in the NEPA documentation for
each mining operation. In addition, proper monitoring of storage and disposal units for these wastes
should be described.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                         CHAPTER III



This chapter describes the potential environmental impacts associated with extraction, beneficiation, and
mineral processing operations.  The mining industry and its potential environmental impacts are unusual
in a number of ways; of these, three may be the most important.  First, many of the potential impacts are
unique to the industry (acid rock drainage, releases from cyanide leaching units, structural failure, etc.).
Second, many of the impacts may be manifested years or decades after mining ends and can intensify
over time. Finally, the nature and extent of impacts from mining operations are based on factors that are
specific to the location (including geology, hydrogeology, climate, human and wildlife populations, etc.).
Impacts from similar types of operations can range from minimal to extensive, depending on local
conditions. These factors emphasize the need for a full understanding of baseline conditions and careful
planning to avoid/mitigate potential impacts.

As in all major industrial operations, careful design and planning play a critical role in reducing or
mitigating potential impacts. In the case of the mining industry, the three characteristics that distinguish
it from other industries make initial design and planning even more crucial. Design and operation plans,
including measures to mitigate potential environmental impacts, are often only conceptual at the time of
permitting. This makes it extremely difficult to delineate the types of information and analyses that are
necessary to assess potential impacts.

The following sections describe potential impacts to surface and ground water, air, and ecosystems
associated with mining operations, along with possible mitigation measures.  The final section of this
chapter identifies (by type of operation) questions that reviewers can ask to determine whether the
potential impacts  to all media have been fully considered in the NEPA process.


Suspended solids and toxic pollutants (primarily metals, sulfates, and nitrates) can be released to surface
water from mining operations.  Because of the large area of land that is disturbed by mining operations
and the large quantities of earthen materials exposed at sites, erosion frequently is a primary concern at
hardrock mining sites. Erosion control must be considered from the beginning of operations through
completion of reclamation.  Erosion may cause significant loadings of sediments (and any entrained
chemical pollutants) to nearby streams, especially during severe storm events, as well as high snow melt
periods. While acid rock drainage (ARD) can enhance contaminant mobility by promoting leaching from
exposed wastes and mine structures (see Chapter IV), releases can also occur under neutral pH
conditions. Primary sources of pollutants  from hardrock mining operations include underground and
surface mine workings; overburden and waste rock piles; tailings piles and impoundments; direct
discharges from conventional milling/beneficiation operations; leach piles and processing facilities;
blowdown from smelting and refining operations, phosphogypsum piles, and chemical storage areas (due
to runoff and spills).  The following sections  describe the discharges associated with each of these
operational areas  as well as potential mitigation measures. A more detailed discussion of runoff and
erosion is provided in Chapter IV.

Table 3-1 provides an overview of the types of pollutants potentially found in surface water discharges
(process water, mine water, seepage, and runoff) from specific industry sectors. Any evaluation of the
potential impacts  of a new mining operation in a watershed requires an understanding of baseline (pre-
construction) conditions. Baseline studies should describe flow conditions (including seasonal
variability), substrate and sediment pollutant  levels, and aquatic life. A brief discussion of monitoring
approaches is presented in Chapter V.

                                          TABLE 3-1

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
Type of Mining
Copper, Lead, Zinc, Silver,
Molybdenum and Gold
(excluding cyanide leaching
Potential Pollutants of Concern in
Discharges to Surface Water
Asbestos, arsenic, copper, and iron
Aluminum, antimony, arsenic,
cadmium, chromium, copper, lead,
manganese, mercury, nickel, thallium,
and zinc
None found at high concentrations
Copper, lead, and zinc
Most toxic metals
Radium 226
Antimony, arsenic, and asbestos
Most toxic metals
Mercury, arsenic, cadmium,
chromium, copper, mercury, lead and
Typical Treatment
Settling ponds and flocculation
Recycling/reuse and
settling/precipitation ponds
Not Applicable
Recycle (mines have generally been
located in arid regions)
Evaporation ponds and/or
Evaporation; ion exchange;
flocculation; settling; and
Settling and precipitation
(lime/caustic addition)
Neutralization, settling and
'Source: EPA, 1982; Ore Mining and Dressing Development Document.

Extraction - Mine Workings

Potential Impact:  During active operations where mining occurs below the water table, mine water is
typically pumped from underground and surface operations and often discharged to surface water
through NPDES-permitted outfalls.  After operations cease, mine workings may overflow and
uncontrolled mine water/runoff may be discharged. The  characteristics of the ore body will affect the
composition of mine water discharges.  Specifically, the occurrence of ARD may cause acidic conditions
and enhance pollutant mobility; however, toxic loadings can also occur under neutral conditions.  Finally,
residues from blasting or from fertilizer used during reclamation can cause elevated nitrate

Development of appropriate mitigation measures for surface water discharges from mine workings
requires a complete understanding of the baseline hydrogeology of the site, including bedrock and
alluvial aquifers as well as the influence of fracturing.  This information can be used to predict the
volumes of mine water requiring management.  At surface mines, proposed operators must also consider
runoff contributions in planning water management. Data on the likely characteristics  of mine
water/runoff are necessary to evaluate the potential for re-use and/or the need for treatment prior to
discharge.  Where sulfide mineralization is encountered,  testing for acid generation potential should be
performed; see Chapter IV.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Maximize evaporation and re-use of mine water in processing operations.

        •       For surface mines, use runon and runoff  control measures, such as berms and ditches.

        •       Use neutralization/precipitation or other  treatment practices prior to discharges.  If state-
               of-the-art technologies or passive treatment (e.g., wetlands) will be used, pilot-scale
               testing and/or contingencies  should be included.

        •       Provide for clean-up of blasting residuals (provide nitrate treatment as necessary).

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
        •       Provide for long-term (i.e., post-closure) mine water management (backfilling of
               workings, sealing of adits, passive and active treatment, etc.).

        •       Monitor discharges and surface water quality.

        •       Site mine water containment units to minimize the potential for surface water recharge
               (through alluvial materials and/or fractures).

Extraction - Waste Rock/Overburden Piles

Potential Impacts:  Waste rock and overburden are typically managed in piles adjacent to the mine
workings. Materials are frequently end-dumped into angle-of-repose units that are often located on the
slopes of natural drainages. These units are generally unlined. Potential pollutant loadings in runoff and
seepage from waste rock piles are dependent on the site-specific mineralogy; they can include sediment
as well as metals, sulfates, and radionuclides.  Where sulfur mineralization is present, ARD can occur.

To determine the surface water impacts associated with a proposed waste rock dump and identify
potential mitigation measures, baseline environmental data and waste rock characteristics are needed.
The geology of the site will establish  likely waste characteristics. ARD potential should be determined
where sulfide minerals are found. A complete water balance should be provided to describe the
projected flows in and out of the dump (as well as an evaluation of stability and the potential for slope

Mitigation Measures:

        •       To the maximum extent possible, backfill into dry mine workings with waste rock
               (where sulfide materials are present consider stabilization/cementation prior to

        •       Maximize the use of overburden in reclamation.  Provide for reclamation of waste rock

        •       Collect and monitor seepage and runoff. Use Best Management Practices (BMPs) to
               control erosion; note  that many BMPs require regular maintenance to ensure consistent
               performance. Where necessary, provide additional active/passive treatment for sediment
               and other pollutants in drainages.  BMPs and containment and treatment  systems should
               be designed to handle up to reasonable maximum flow rates.

        •       Where ARD is observed,  reactive waste rock can be segregated and
               covered/encapsulated by non-reactive materials.

        •       Use non-reactive waste rock for on-site construction (buttresses, haul roads, etc.).

        •       Establish a reclamation plan based on proven techniques (use overburden as surficial
               material to facilitate vegetative growth, establish test plots as appropriate).

        •       Provide for adequate  dump drainage to minimize the potential for slope failure. Use
               piezometers to monitor water levels/stability.

        •       Conduct baseline surface water monitoring and continue discharge and water quality
               monitoring throughout operations and closure/post-closure periods.

Benef iciation - Tailings Impoundments

Potential Impacts;  Tailings impoundments are typically constructed in natural drainages  (to facilitate
water management). Most mines attempt to maximize re-use  of tailings water in milling operations.
However, impoundment designs frequently include underdrains and controlled discharges (especially in
high precipitation/snow melt areas).  Further, even where units are intended not to discharge, tailings
impoundments are nearly always accompanied by unavoidable seepage through or beneath the dam

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
structure.  Similar to waste rock, the composition of surface water discharges from tailings is dependent
on the local geology. However, fine tailings can be more susceptible to leaching/entrainment of
particulates than coarser waste rock materials. Contaminants associated with the host rock often include
heavy metals, arsenic, and radionuclides. ARD can occur if sulfide mineralization is encountered and
may enhance metals mobility.  Residual mill reagents may also be present in the tailings, however, they
typically do not contribute significant pollutant loadings. Finally, where the outside slopes of dams or
other units are constructed of tailings or other mining wastes, discharges and runoff from these areas can
affect water quality and may require treatment.

Tailings are typically transported to impoundments by pipeline. Reclaimed water is collected from
impoundments and returned to the mill by pipeline. Pipe failures may lead to surface water impacts if
pipelines are located in drainages or residues contact runoff.

Development of appropriate mitigation measures for tailings impoundments necessitates an
understanding of the overall water balance (including reuse, groundwater infiltration, evaporation,
seepage, snow melt, and runoff). The composition of the tailings should be determined by evaluating the
local geology and representative waste testing (including leachability testing). If sulfide mineralization is
encountered, ARD potential should be determined.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Ensure that the unit (and associated diversion,  containment, and treatment systems) has
               been designed to contain the maximum reasonable storm event and to withstand even
               rarer events.

       •       For units located in drainages, consider natural and/or synthetic liners or keying units
               into bedrock (to minimize releases to the alluvium and subsequent recharge).  Also
               consider liners for  any seepage/runoff collection sumps/ditches outside the berm(s).

       •       Maximize the reclaim/reuse of tailings water.

       •       Regulate dosages of mill reagents (i.e., limit use to the least extent necessary). Monitor
               tailings water for mill reagent contamination.

       •       Provide adequate drainage of the berms to prevent slope failure. Monitor the phreatic
               surface/stability using piezometers.

       •       Design tailings pipelines to include secondary  containment.

       •       Continue ARD testing throughout the operational and closure periods. Where ARD is
               encountered, consider the mitigation measures identified in Chapter IV.

       •       Collect runoff/seepage from the outer slopes of the impoundment and provide for
               treatment/use of BMPs as appropriate.

       •       Ensure that instream tailings management conforms to all Clean Water Act §402
               (NPDES) and §404 (wetland/dredge and fill) requirements.

Beneficiation - Copper Dump Leach Operations and  SX/EW Plants

Potential Impacts:  Copper leaching operations are generally intended to have no surface water
discharges during active leaching operations. Dumps are typically sited in natural drainages with
downstream collection sumps.  Pregnant solution andraffinate  ponds are lined and SX/EW plant
operations normally have secondary containment. However, a  full understanding of the water balance
and adherence to sound design standards are necessary to ensure that all drainage is collected. This is
especially applicable to sites with significant variations in precipitation and snow melt. Further, any
closed loop system will inevitably have spill events that can cause surface water impacts. Finally,
surface water discharges are  likely  after leaching becomes no longer economical (to date, closure plans
generally have not been developed  during initial planning). Surface water discharges from copper dump

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
leaches are likely to be acidic and contain metals, sulfates, and other pollutants associated with the
geology of the host rock.  Reagents such as kerosene are used in the SX/EW process; however, the small
quantities suggest that they would be generally undetected in any discharges.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Design dump leach units to fully drain to collection areas (including both seepage and
               runoff). This involves ensuring a full understanding of drainage patterns and the
               hydrogeology of the site.

       •       Ensure that collection, pregnant solution, and raffinate ponds are designed to contain up
               to the maximum reasonable storm event. Line process ponds. As necessary, design and
               install secondary collection sumps to contain any solution that bypasses the primary

       •       Provide secondary containment for solution pipes to minimize impacts from pipe
               failures/spills. Develop and implement a spill response plan to lessen any impacts from

       •       Develop a plan to collect and, as necessary, treat prior to discharge, drainage that occurs
               after copper recovery becomes no longer economical (at closure). Design and implement
               a reclamation plan based on proven techniques tailored to site conditions (topography,
               climate, local vegetation, etc.).

       •       Monitor post-closure discharges and downstream surface water quality. Parameters
               should be identified based on pregnant solution characteristics.

Beneficiation - Cyanide Leaching Operations

Potential Impacts:  Cyanide heap leaches and associated processing operations can cause acute impacts to
surface water through leaks or failures of containment systems.  In addition, unless effective
detoxification procedures are used, spent ore piles can cause releases of residual cyanide.  Further, other
pollutants (including heavy metals) can be mobilized in the leaching process and may be released to
surface water through spills or leaks (during operations) and through seepage/runoff from spent ore (after
closure). The characteristics of spent ore pile seepage/runoff will depend on the local geology and any
residual effects of application of the leaching solution. Where sulfide mineralization is encountered, the
potential for ARD should be investigated. Finally, cyanide degradation can also lead to nitrate

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Wherever possible, do not locate leaching operations in or near drainages, especially
               perennial streams supporting aquatic life.

       •       Ensure that pregnant and barren solution ponds and transport ditches are designed to
               contain all solution flows and any runoff/snow melt up to the maximum reasonable storm

       •       Provide double liners and leak detection systems for all heaps, ponds, and drainage
               ditches. Perform adequate surface preparation and design loading practices to minimize
               the potential for liner failure.

       •       Provide for testing of detoxified materials prior to  disposal or abandonment to ensure
               cyanide levels are reduced to below levels protective of human health and the

       •       Collect and test seepage and runoff from spent ore piles (ensuring that containment is
               designed to hold up to the maximum reasonable storm event). If sulfide mineralization is

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
               present, perform long-term ARD studies.  Treat runoff/seepage as necessary prior to
               discharge. Also perform downstream water quality monitoring.

        •       Develop and implement a spill prevention and response plan to ensure prompt detection
               and clean-up of any spills.

Mineral Processing - Phosphoric Acid Production/Phosphogypstacks

Potential Impacts:  Phosphogypsum from phosphoric acid production is typically slurried to
"phosphogypstacks." Except for facilities located in Louisiana, no direct surface water discharges are
allowed from phosphogypstacks, except during heavy precipitation events (40 CFR Part 418.10).
However, discharges of overflows during precipitation events may be highly acidic with  elevated
concentrations of metals, sulfate, phosphorous, and radionuclides. In addition, phosphogypstacks located
near surface waters may be subject to failures that can cause uncontrolled pollutant releases.  Surface
water impacts from infiltration/seepage can also occur through groundwater recharge.

Mitigation Measures:

        •       Optimize plant  operations to maximize phosphoric acid recovery and minimize the
               phosphorous levels in/acidity of the waste.

        •       Determine the likely water balance for the unit (including effects of heavy precipitation)
               and conduct a stability analysis for the proposed design.  Use piezometers to monitor
               stability during and after waste disposal.

        •       Line phosphogypstacks and provide for leak detection (to minimize recharge potential).

        •       Collect runoff/seepage from the outer slopes of the stacks; treat, as necessary, prior to

        •       Monitor upstream and downstream surface water quality.

Mineral Processing - Slag Piles and Other Wastes From Furnace Operations

Potential Impacts:  Mineral processing operations generate significant quantities of slag which is
typically disposed of in lined or, more often, unlined piles. Although contaminant mobility may be
reduced due to the nature of the slag matrix, surface water releases may be caused by precipitation that
comes into contact with the slag.

In addition, at many smelting/furnace operations, ore, coke, flux, and other materials used in mineral
processing operations are stored outside. Fugitive emissions from these materials, as well as stack
emissions, can contribute to on-site soils deposition.  Storm water which comes into contact with stored
materials or affected soils can provide a transport mechanism for releases to surface waters through
entrainment or leaching. Pollutants will reflect the characteristics of the ore.

Mitigation Measures:

        •       Wherever possible,  do not locate slag piles near drainages.

        •       Collect runoff/seepage from the outer slopes of the slag piles and conduct testing to
               determine pollutant concentrations; provide for containment and/or treatment, as

        •       Implement good housekeeping procedures to minimize fugitive emissions from raw
               material storage (e.g. provide covers).

        •       Install  appropriate air pollution control devices to control particulate matter (see section
               below  on mitigation measures for air emissions).  Provide for recycling/re-use and/or
               proper management of air pollution control wastes.

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers

Releases from mining operations can have significant impacts on groundwater quantity and quality.
Drawdown associated with mine dewatering can reduce the availability of water for domestic water
supplies and other uses, and can also affect wetland habitats. Releases of heavy metals, sulfates, nitrates,
and radionuclides from mining materials can contaminate aquifers. Spills and leaks of cyanide solutions
from leaching operations have also impacted groundwater quality.

To determine the potential for groundwater impacts, it is essential that the EA/EIS include a detailed
description of the site hydrogeology, including both alluvial and bedrock aquifers as well as the
influences of fracturing. NEPA documentation should also describe the likely characteristics of waste
materials (including ARD potential) and how reagent use/handling may contribute to subsurface releases.
This information will serve to predict potential groundwater impacts and guide design and
implementation of appropriate mitigation measure during both active operations and closure/post-closure.

Extraction - Mine Workings

Potential Impact: Contact with exposed mine workings  can lead to contamination of mine water.
Pollutants can include heavy metals, sulfate, arsenic, and radionuclides.  Metals releases can be enhanced
by acid mine drainage (AMD) (where there is sulfide mineralization); although leaching can occur both
under acidic and neutral conditions.  Mine water can also be contaminated by blasting residuals (i.e.,
causing elevated nitrate concentrations). Infiltration of mine water from underground and surface
workings/management units can lead to contamination of aquifers (some mining operations use
infiltration ponds as a primary mine water management practice).  Further, infiltration of groundwater
into mine workings and subsequent use in processes, evaporation, and/or discharge can cause aquifer
drawdown (currently being observed in the Carlin Trend area in northeastern Nevada). These effects can
lead to diminished drinking water supplies as well as loss of riparian zones and wetlands associated with
lowered groundwater levels.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Maximize evaporation and re-use of mine water in on-site operations.

       •       Use neutralization/precipitation or other treatment practices, as necessary, prior to
               allowing re-infiltration.  If state-of-the-art technologies or passive treatment (e.g.,
               wetlands) will be used, pilot-scale testing and/or contingencies should be included.

       •       Provide for clean-up of blasting residuals (provide nitrate treatment as necessary).

       •       Provide for long-term (i.e., post-closure) mine water management (backfilling of
               workings, sealing of adits, passive and active treatment, etc.).

       •       Establish baseline groundwater chemistry and perform groundwater monitoring during
               operations and after closure. As appropriate, monitor nearby water supply wells.

       •       In areas where drawdown is a concern, ensure that the hydrogeology/water balance is
               determined prior to approving operations (including cumulative effects of all operations
               within a region). As appropriate, limit mining/mine water generation in areas where
               water supplies are critical. Use pumped water from dewatering to recharge aquifers (as
               long as water quality is protected).

Extraction - Waste Rock/Overburden Piles

Potential Impacts: Waste rock and overburden are typically managed in piles adjacent to mine workings.
Precipitation that infiltrates waste rock piles can directly impact the underlying groundwater. In addition,
seepage and runoff that flow from the pile can infiltrate  soils and also affect groundwater quality.
Potential pollutant loadings to groundwater from waste rock piles are dependent on the site-specific

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
mineralogy, however, they can include metals, sulfates, and radionuclides. Where sulfur mineralization
is present, ARD can occur.  To determine the potential for groundwater impacts, it is necessary to collect
data on the baseline hydrogeology (including aquifer depth and quality). The characteristics of the waste
rock and the expected water balance (inflows and outflows from the pile) should also be determined.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       To the maximum extent possible, backfill into dry mine workings with waste rock
               (where sulfide materials are present, consider stabilization/cementation).

       •       Collect and monitor mine dump drainage (french drains are often used).  Where
               necessary, provide active/passive treatment for pollutants. Containment and treatment
               systems should be designed to contain up to reasonable maximum flow rates.

       •       Use runon controls to minimize the potential for infiltration.

       •       Where ARD is observed, reactive waste rock can be segregated and
               covered/encapsulated by non-reactive materials (to prevent contact with
               runo ff/infiltr ation).

       •       Establish a reclamation plan based on proven techniques (use overburden as surficial
               material to facilitate vegetative growth).

       •       Conduct baseline groundwater monitoring and continue monitoring throughout
               operations and closure/post-closure periods.

Benef iciation - Tailings Impoundments

Potential Impacts:  Tailings impoundments are typically constructed in natural drainages  (to facilitate
water management).  Newer tailings impoundments may be lined (with synthetic or natural materials) or
keyed into bedrock. However, some tailings water often infiltrates into groundwater. Further, outside of
the impoundment, releases to groundwater can occur from infiltration of seepage and/or runoff from the
outside slopes. The composition of tailings water/infiltration can reflect residual mill reagents.
However, contributions from these chemicals are generally small.  Instead, pollutants in tailings are
typically representative of the geology of the ore body and may include metals, sulfates, and
radionuclides. Where sulfide ore is beneficiated, ARE) may  enhance pollutant mobility.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Ensure that the unit (and associated diversion, containment, and treatment systems) has
               been designed to contain up to the maximum reasonable storm event.

       •       Install natural and/or synthetic liners or key the unit into bedrock.  Also consider liners
               for any seepage or storm water drainage collection systems outside the unit.

       •       Maximize the reclaim/reuse of tailings water.

       •       Regulate dosages of mill reagents (i.e., limit use to the least extent necessary). Monitor
               tailings water for mill reagent contamination.

       •       Design tailings pipelines to include secondary containment.

       •       Conduct upfront testing to determine tailings water composition (to identify the need for
               mitigation/treatment). Continue waste testing  during operations. Perform baseline
               groundwater monitoring and continue well monitoring during the operating and
               closure/post periods.

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
        •       Continue ARD testing throughout the operational and closure periods.  Where ARD is
               encountered, consider material segregation and/or encapsulation to minimize contact
               with infiltration or liners/drainage systems to avoid releases to groundwater.

Benef iciation - Copper Dump Leach Operations and SX/EW Plants

Potential Impacts:  Copper leaching operations are generally intended to have no groundwater discharges
during active leaching operations. Pregnant solution and raffinate ponds are lined and SX/EW plants
operations normally have secondary containment. However, adherence to sound design standards are
necessary to ensure that all drainage is collected.  Further, any closed loop system will have spill events
that can cause groundwater impacts. Groundwater discharges can also occur after leaching no longer
becomes economical.  Groundwater discharges from copper dump leaches are likely to be acidic and
contain metals,  sulfates, and other pollutants associated with the geology of the host rock.

Mitigation Measures:

        •       Design dump leach units to fully drain to lined collection areas (including both seepage
               and runoff).  This involves ensuring a full understanding of drainage patterns and the
               hydrogeology of the site.

        •       Ensure that collection, pregnant solution, and raffinate ponds are designed to contain up
               to the maximum reasonable storm events.  Line process ponds and provide for leak
               detection. As necessary, design and install secondary collection sumps to contain any
               solution that bypasses the primary ponds.

        •       Develop and implement a spill response plan to lessen any impacts from releases.

        •       Develop a plan to collect and, as necessary, treat prior to discharge, any drainage after
               copper recovery becomes no longer economical (at closure).  If sulfide ores are  leached,
               provide for long-term ARD mitigation, as appropriate.

        •       Perform baseline groundwater monitoring and conduct upgradient and downgradient
               groundwater quality monitoring during active operations and closure/post-closure.

Beneficiation - Cyanide Leaching Operations

Potential Impacts:  Cyanide heap leaches and associated processing operations can cause impacts to
groundwater through leaks or failures of containment systems. While heaps and processing units are
typically lined, leaks have occurred at many operations. This can result in releases of cyanide, nitrates
(products of cyanide degradation), and other pollutants (metals) that are characteristic of the ore body. In
addition, infiltration from spent ore piles may be a source of pollutants.

Mitigation Measures:

        •       Wherever possible, do not locate leaching operations near drinking water supplies.

        •       Ensure that pregnant and barren solution ponds  and transport ditches are designed to
               contain all solution and any runoff up to the maximum reasonable storm event (to
               prevent overflow and uncontrolled infiltration/snow melt).

        •       Provide double liners and leak detection systems for all heaps, ponds, and drainage
               ditches. Perform adequate surface preparation and design loading practices to minimize
               the potential for liner perforation.

        •       Collect and test seepage and runoff from spent ore piles (ensuring that containment is
               designed to holdup to the maximum reasonable storm event). If necessary, line piles and
               treat collected drainage.  If sulfide mineralization is present, perform long-term  ARD

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
       •       Develop and implement a spill prevention and response plan to ensure prompt detection
               and clean-up of any spills.

       •       Determine baseline hydrogeology (including aquifer depth and quality).  Conduct
               monitoring downgradient of process units during operations and spent ore piles during
               operations and after closure.

Benef iciation - In Situ Mining

Potential Impacts: In hardrock mining, in situ methods are especially prevalent in the copper and
uranium sectors. In the copper industry, leaching solution can be injected into historic underground
workings that were mined prior to the availability of SX/EW technologies. In the  uranium sector, oxygen
and carbon dioxide gases are commonly injected for uranium recovery.  Groundwater impacts can occur
where leaching solutions bypass recovery systems.  Potential contaminants will reflect the geology of the
ore body/host rock, including metals, sulfates, radionuclides, and the leach solutions. Contaminant
mobility can be enhanced by the acidic solutions used in copper operations.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Ensure proper production well installation/completion to avoid uncontrolled solution
               releases. Provide for adequate well abandonment.

       •       Perform a detailed characterization of the hydrogeology of the site to guide  design of
               recovery systems and determine the potential for releases.

       •       Carefully monitor pumping pressures of solutions entering and leaving deposits to assure
               that solutions are not migrating into groundwater.

       •       Line surface collection systems and provide for leak detection. Design collection
               systems to contain the maximum volumes of leaching solutions as well as
               precipitation/runoff/snow melt.

Mineral Processing - Phosphoric Acid Production/Phosphogypstacks

Potential Impacts: Phosphogypsum from phosphoric acid production is  typically slurried to
phosphogypstacks. The pH of the slurried solution and stack pond water is often less than 1. Seepage of
residual water/precipitation through these units can contaminate underlying aquifers. Metals and sulfate
mobility from the gypsum waste will be enhanced by the acidic conditions in the stack. Further,
radionuclides associated with phosphate rock may also be released.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Optimize plant operations to maximize phosphoric acid recovery and minimize the
               phosphate levels in/acidity of the waste.

       •       Avoid locating phosphogypstacks near domestic water supply wells

       •       Line phosphogypstacks and provide for leak detection; continue drainage control after
               waste disposal ceases (as long as 30 years may be required for stacks to completely

       •       Collect runoff/seepage from the outer slopes of the stacks.

       •       Conduct baseline groundwater monitoring, and monitor upgradient and downgradient
               wells during active operations and  closure/post-closure.

Mineral Processing - Slag Piles and Other Wastes From Furnace Operations

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
Potential Impacts:  Many mineral processing operations generate significant quantities of slag which is
typically disposed of in lined or, more often, unlined piles. Although contaminant mobility may be
reduced due to the nature of the slag matrix, infiltration of runoff and seepage that contacts slag can
impact underlying groundwater.  In addition, infiltration may become contaminated by contact with soils
that are affected by deposition of fugitive and/or stack emissions.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Install natural  and/or synthetic liners for slag piles. Also consider liners for any seepage
               or storm water drainage collection systems outside the piles.

       •       Conduct baseline groundwater monitoring, and monitor upgradient and downgradient
               wells during active operations and closure/post-closure.

       •       Install appropriate air pollution control devices to control particulate matter (see section
               below on mitigation measures for air emissions). Provide for recycling/re-use and/or
               proper management of air pollution control wastes.


Emissions Associated with Extraction

Potential Impacts:  A primary air pollutant of concern at mining sites is particulate matter. In many of
the processes associated with mining activities, a significant portion of the mass of particulate matter is
made up  of large particles, those with diameters greater than 10 micron. This coarse particulate matter
usually settles gravitationally within a few hundred meters of the source. The smaller particle size
fractions, however, can be carried by wind for great distances and may be deposited on or near populated
areas.  As a result, human health and/or environmental problems may arise through either direct
inhalation, soil deposition, or accumulation within a water body. Relatively simple control techniques
can be used to limit the amount of particulate matter that is released from these activities.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Ore crushing and conveyors can be a substantial source of fugitive dust, and control
               generally involves water sprays or mists in the immediate area of the crusher and along
               conveyor routes  or enclosing the conveyor systems.

       •       Loading bins for ore, limestone, and other materials also generate dust. Again, water
               sprays are typically used.

       •       Blasting generates dust that can be,  and sometimes is, controlled with water sprays.

       •       Equipment and vehicle travel on access and haul roads is a major source of fine and
               coarse dust. Most  mines use water trucks to dampen the surface periodically.

       •       Waste rock dumping can generate dust, but this generally consists of coarse particles that
               settle out rapidly with no other controls.

       •       Wind also entrains dust from dumps and spoil piles, roads, tailings (either dry as
               disposed or the dry portions of impoundments), and other disturbed areas.  Spray from
               water trucks is often used when the  mine is operating. During temporary closures and
               particularly after the active life, stabilization and reclamation are aimed in part at
               reducing fugitive dust emissions.  Rock and/or topsoil covers, possibly with vegetative
               covers, can be effective controls.

Air Emissions Associated with Benef iciation and Mineral Processing

Potential Impacts:  In nearly all mineral beneficiation and processing operations, ore preparation
activities such as milling and grinding generate substantial quantities of particulate matter which

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
routinely require control devices. Particulate matter is also prevalent when furnaces of all types (electric
arc, basic oxygen, open hearth, etc.) are used.  Activities such as sintering, smelting, tapping, product
handling, and many others produce significant quantities of particulate mater which may escape as
fugitive emissions or may be routed to a control device. In addition to particulate matter, beneficiation
and mineral processing operations can generate large quantities of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and
organic emissions which require the use of control devices. Without proper control, emissions from
these operations can have a significant impact on air quality, terrestrial ecosystems, and aquatic
Mitigation Measures: The primary control devices used for particulate matter emissions are centrifugal
collectors (i.e., cyclones), low and high pressure wet scrubbers, fabric filters, wire mesh contractors, wet
and dry electrostatic precipitators (ESPs), and baghouses.  Efficiencies of these control devices vary from
80 to 99.9 percent. The mineral processing discussion in Chapter n listed the specific emission sources
associated with each processing sector. The following paragraphs describe the control devices
commonly used in each. This information was obtained from EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and
Standards (EPA, 1985a) and the Report to Congress on Special Wastes from Mineral Processing (EPA,

Alumina Processing

Various dust collection devices including centrifugal collectors, multiple cyclones, ESPs, and wet
scrubbers have been used to control particulate matter emissions from calcining and ore grinding and
handling operations. To control gaseous hydrogen fluoride and particulate fluorides one or more types of
wet scrubbers are commonly applied. Gaseous and particulate fluorides are also controlled by passing
the pot offgases through the incoming alumina feed which absorbs fluoride. This technique has an
overall efficiency of 98 - 99 percent.  Baghouses are then used to collect residual fluorides entrained in
the alumina. Scrubber systems are  also effective in removing SO2 emissions.

Copper Processing

Particulate matter and SO2 are the principal air contaminants emitted by primary copper smelters. Single
stage ESPs are widely used to control emissions from roasters, smelting furnaces, and converters. "Hot"
ESPs are effective in removing condensed particulate matter present in gaseous effluents but are
relatively ineffective in reducing volatile emissions such as sulfuric acid mist. Therefore, in these cases,
the gas stream is commonly cooled and directed through an additional cold ESP, which may remove
more than 95 percent of the total particulate matter present in the gas. Control of SO2 emissions from
smelter sources is most commonly performed in a single or double contact sulfuric acid plant. Typically,
single contact acid plants achieve 92.5 to 98 percent conversion of SO2 to sulfuric acid, with
approximately 2,000 ppm of SO2 remaining in the off-gas.  Double contact plants collect 98 to more than
99 percent of the sulfur dioxide and emit about 500 ppm of SO2.

Ferrous Metals Processing

Smelting exhaust is primarily comprised of particulate matter which is controlled with cyclone cleaners
followed by a dry or wet ESP, high pressure wet scrubber, or baghouse. Electric arc furnaces emit
particulate matter in the form of fumes, accounting for an estimated 94 percent of the particulate matter
emissions in the ferrous metals industry. Depending on the type of furnace in use (submerged, open, or
covered), large amounts of carbon monoxide and organic materials may also be emitted. In general,
baghouses are the most commonly applied control device followed by wet scrubbers and then wet and
dry ESPs. Efficiencies for well designed and operated control systems have been reported to be in excess
of 99 percent.

Elemental Phosphorus Processing

Scrubbers are the most common control equipment used for phosphate rock dryers and calciners, but
some ESPs are also  used. Control efficiencies are between 80 to 99 percent for particles between 1 to 10
micron in diameter and 10 to 80 percent for particles less than 1 micron in diameter.  Fabric filters are
commonly used to control particulate matter emissions  from the grinders. In most operations, conveyor
systems are enclosed to reduce fugitive emissions.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
Lead Processing

Emission controls at lead smelters are installed for removal of particulate matter and sulfur dioxide. The
most commonly used high efficiency particulate control devices are fabric filters and ESPs, which often
follow centrifugal collectors and tubular coolers. Nearly identical to copper processing, lead smelters
use either single or double absorption sulfuric acid plants to control SO2 emissions from sinter machines
and, occasionally, from blast furnaces.

Phosphoric Acid Processing

Gaseous fluorides generated during the wet process are routed to scrubbers prior to release to the
atmosphere. However, significant fluorine emissions often occur from the phosphogypsum settling
ponds and from reactor slurry cooling operations. Particulate matter from process equipment and filters
is usually removed with centrifugal collectors, scrubbers, or ESPs.

In the thermal process, economical operation demands that the potential loss of product (phosphoric acid
mist) be controlled; therefore, all plants are equipped with  some type of control device. Control
equipment commonly used in the thermal process includes venturi scrubbers,  cyclonic separators with
wire mesh mist eliminators, fiber mist eliminators, high energy wire mesh contractors, and ESPs.
Capture efficiencies are between 95 and 99.9 percent.

The predominant emissions control measures for metal ore processing are the traditional end-of-pipe add-
on control systems such as those described above. Increasingly, industry and regulatory agencies are
searching for alternate measures that can be implemented to reduce the amount of emissions generated or
the volume of emission streams. These alternative control measures or pollution prevention activities are
frequently effective in reducing fugitive emissions, but in some cases the principal emission streams can
also be reduced by fine tuning process controls and other changes in operating practices.

In smelting operations and in alumina processing, well designed hood systems can sometimes capture
large amounts of off-gas fumes that would otherwise be emitted as fugitive releases. In general, few of
these alternative control measures have been applied in industry.  In some applications, computerized
control of raw material feed rates and mixtures of raw materials within the process equipment can reduce
emissions by optimizing the generation of the product.


Extraction-Surface and Underground Mining

Potential Impacts;  The impacts to soils  associated with surface and underground mining include erosion
and contamination from leaching solutions. Soil erosion can be caused by surface disturbances
associated with pit operations (such as access roads) or with underground operations (such as mine
portals) and by runoff associated with the discharges of mine water.  When mine water, runoff, and
drainage from waste rock (and tailings piles) come in contact with soils, toxic metals in these waste
streams can be transferred to the soils. These metals can be present both in dissolved and suspended
(particulate) forms.  Common contaminants include heavy  metals (cadmium, lead, etc.), arsenic, and
radionuclides. Contact of ART) with soils can lower both the pH and the cation exchange capacity of the

Mitigation Measures:

        •       Runon and runoff control measures, such as berms and ditches.

        •       Treatment of wastewater prior to discharge, by (e.g.) lime neutralization or the use of
               natural or artificial wetlands.

        •       Backfilling mine workings with waste rock; reclamation and closure of portals and roads;
               revegetation with native species.

Beneficiation-Gold Heap Leaching and Copper Dump Leaching

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
Potential Impacts:  The most serious impact to soils associated with heap and dump leaching is toxic
pollutant contamination.  Spent ore piles or dumps, if not adequately reclaimed, may cause soil
contamination with heavy metals, arsenic, and other toxic constituents. Contaminated soil may be an
exposure route to humans via direct contact or ingestion. Further, contamination may decrease soil
productivity. Spent cyanide solutions may be treated and land applied as a method of disposal.  If the
spent solution is not neutralized completely, cyanide may remain in the soil.  Spills of pregnant (gold- or
silver-bearing) cyanide solution commonly results in accumulation of toxic metals in the soil. In
addition, dump leaching often involves the use of added chemicals such as sulfuric acid and organic
solvents (used in solvent extraction/electrowinning of the pregnant solution).  Spills and improper
disposal of these chemicals are a common source of soil contamination.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Detoxification of heaps, dumps, and any spent solutions to reduce cyanide, acidity, and
               metal loadings. Treatment should address the entire chemical matrix of the solution.

       •       Biological treatment for cyanides, nitrates, and heavy metals.

       •       Lining of PLS  and barren solution ponds, heap leach pads, and conveyances ( e.g.
               ditches) with clay or synthetic liners.

       •       Installation of leachate detection and collection systems under ponds and heaps.

       •       Construction of seepage ponds downgradient of ponds, heaps, and dumps.

       •       Recycling of process water.

       •       Lime neutralization or wetlands treatment of acid drainage.

       •       Contingency plans for sudden or catastrophic releases, including sufficient on-site
               inventories of cyanide and acid neutralizing agents.

       •       Recontouring and revegetating heaps, dumps, and waste rock piles.

       •       Runon and runoff control measures, such as berms and ditches.

Beneficiation-Mills and Tailings

Potential Impacts:  The impacts of tailings piles on soils can include contamination by mixing, leaching,
and fugitive dust. Tailings typically contain heavy metals, arsenic, and radionuclides. Unlined piles can
contribute particulates directly to the underlying soil, and contaminants can be leached from the piles into
the soil by groundwater or precipitation infiltration. Contaminants in tailings, if applied to the soil, can
decrease  soil productivity. The entrainment of wind-blown particulate matter from tailings piles can
cause deposition of contaminants in soils downwind from such piles. Also, the inadvertent or deliberate
use of abandoned tailings for construction fill or aggregate can result in dispersal of contamination.  If
uncontrolled, both fugitive and stack emissions of particulate matter from mineral  beneficiation
operations (crushing, grinding, milling, drying, concentrating, etc.) can cause soil contamination
downwind from the operations.
Mitigation Measures:

        •       Runon and runoff control measures, such as berms and ditches, to minimize infiltration
               and leaching.

        •       Lining of piles with clay or synthetic liners.

        •       Installation of leachate detection and collection systems under piles.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
       •       Construction of seepage ponds downgradient of piles.

       •       Lime neutralization or wetlands treatment of acid drainage.

       •       Maintenance of an anaerobic environment within tailings piles to minimize pyrite
               oxidation and subsequent mobilization of contaminants.

       •       Covering and revegetating piles to suppress wind erosion and contaminant transport.

       •       Use of particular collectors and dust suppression activities to reduce stack and fugitive
               particulate matter emissions.

Mineral Processing

Potential Impacts:  Three primary pathways exist for soil contamination from mineral processing
operations: air emissions; process and storm water discharges; and waste disposal.  With respect to
impacts to soils, fugitive and stack emissions of particulate matter are of primary concern, however,
effects of SO2 emissions on soils  can also be severe. Several mineral processing operations (copper, iron,
lead, and elemental phosphorus) generate slag which is disposed of in slag piles. Red mud, produced
during alumina production, and phosphogypsum, produced during phosphoric acid production, are
typically disposed of in settling ponds. Potential impacts to soils from contaminants found in these
wastes are similar to those described above for tailings. Contaminants may be leached from the slag or
settled wastes, storm water may become contaminated from contact with wastes, or the settling ponds
could overflow during heavy precipitation events.

Mitigation Measures:

       •       Installation of effective control devices and use of BMPs to reduce fugitive and stack
               emissions of particulate matter, SO2, phosphoric acid mist,  or other airborne pollutants.

       •       Runon and runoff control measures, such as berms and ditches, to minimize infiltration
               and leaching from waste  disposal areas.

       •       Lining of slag piles and settling ponds with clay or synthetic liners.

       •       Installation of leachate detection and collection systems under waste disposal areas.

       •       Construction of seepage ponds downgradient of waste disposal areas.

       •       Recycling or treatment of cooling pond water.


Evaluating potential environmental impacts to an ecosystem from a proposed mining operation involves a
consideration of impacts to the aquatic and terrestrial components of the system. Potential effects to the
individual components of the ecosystem need to be addressed. However, an analysis of the combined
and cumulative impacts should also be assessed in terms of the ecosystem as a whole. The following
section presents an overview of aquatic and terrestrial components of ecosystems, including potential
impacts from mining activities, followed  by a list of potential mitigation measures.

Aquatic Resources

For impact assessment purposes,  aquatic  life is generally defined as fish and benthic macroinvertebrates;
however, phytoplankton and other life forms may also be  considered, depending on the type of aquatic
habitat and the nature  of impacts  being assessed. Baseline conditions of aquatic resources should be
described using surveys offish and macroinvertebrates/benthic organisms.  These surveys should be
designed to adequately describe seasonal variation to be expected within the watershed.  A detailed
discussion of the many approaches and methodologies that may be used to define and monitor aquatic
resources is beyond the scope of this document.

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
Changes in water quality result in impacts on aquatic resources that typically occur in two forms: the
addition of sediment or toxic/hazardous materials (metals) to streams and water bodies; and, the direct
disruption of ephemeral, intermittent, or perennial streams; wetlands; or other water bodies.  Impacts may
result in changes to relative abundance or biological diversity.  Impacts to aquatic resources  can be
evaluated using the 1989 EPA document, Rapid Bioassessment Pro locals for Use in Streams and Rivers:
Benthic Macro invertebrates an dFish. (EPA, 1989).

Terrestrial Resources

The major components of terrestrial resources include vegetation and wildlife. The distribution of
vegetation is dependant on the local climatic regime, soils, slope, and aspect.  Vegetation is typically
described in terms of communities or associations - based on the dominant species of the particular
community. Native plant communities perform a number of functions in the landscape. Vegetation
stabilizes the soil surface, holding soil in place and trapping sediment that may otherwise become
mobilized;  it also functions to modify microclimatic conditions, retaining soil moisture and lowering
surface temperatures.  A diverse landscape also provides some degree of aesthetic value.  The density and
type of wildlife species present within a site depends largely on the native vegetation communities.
Local experts from state and Federal agencies should be consulted  to identify which plant and wildlife
species of concern are potentially located within the affected area.  These specialists are also able to
provide information on the types  of communities in which particular species are likely to be  found. In
some instances, it may be desirable to focus on certain local species of concern; however, it is usually
preferable to assess impacts on the overall ecosystem.

Impacts to vegetation are primarily associated with the land-clearing activities conducted in advance  of
mining operations. Baseline data for  vegetation should include a description of the major plant
communities or associations within the affected area.  The description of each community should include
the percent of vegetation cover, a measure of productivity (biomass production), a measure of plant
species diversity, and a qualitative description of the dominant species. The extent of disturbance within
each community should also be identified.

Impacts to wildlife include habitat loss, degradation, and alteration associated with the destruction of
vegetation. Noise  during the construction phase or operations may result in the displacement of wildlife
populations from otherwise undisturbed areas surrounding the  site. Some individuals or species may
rapidly acclimate to such disturbances and return while others may return during less disruptive
operational activities.  Still other individuals may be permanently displaced for the life of the project.
Exposure to toxic/hazardous chemicals through solution ponds, tailings impoundments or spills pose a
threat to individuals. The duration and extent of impacts are important considerations for wildlife. The
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Habitat Evaluation Procedure (HEP) measures the quality of
habitat as it relates to certain species. Habitat loss may be temporary (e.g., construction-related impacts),
long-term (e.g., over the life of a  mine), or essentially permanent (e.g., the replacement of forested areas
with waste rock piles).

Assessment/prediction of potential wildlife impacts requires an accurate description of baseline
conditions as well  as a long-term monitoring program to identify any changes from the pre-disturbance
environment. Wherever possible, quantitative assessments of wildlife populations and their habitat are
always preferred.  Quantitative assessment of impacts often includes comparison of pre- and post-impact
species populations.  This typically requires field surveys of local populations. Impacts to terrestrial
resources can be evaluated using the  1993 EPA document, Habitat Evaluation: Guidance for the Review
of Environmental Impact Assessment Documents. (EPA, 1993).


Native vegetation communities can often be broken down into upland and lowland types. Upland
communities consist of forests, shrublands and grasslands.  Lowland vegetation occurring within
drainages forms riparian (streamside) communities, including wetlands. Wetlands and riparian areas are
usually the most productive and diverse vegetation types within an ecosystem. As such, these vegetation
types are subject to additional regulatory requirements including §404 of the Clean Water Act, Executive
Order (EO) 11988 (Floodplain Management), and EO 11990 (Protection of Wetlands). The  following
discussion addresses the unique concerns associated with these lowland vegetation types.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
Riparian communities and wetlands provide functions within the landscape as defined in Wetland
Evaluation Technique (WET) Volume II: Methodology (Adamus et al., 1987): (1) groundwater recharge;
(2) floodflow attenuation; (3) sediment stabilization; (4) sediment/toxicant retention; (5) nutrient
removal/ transformation; (6) primary production export; (7) wildlife diversity/abundance; (8) recreation;
and (9) uniqueness and heritage.  Baseline data should include an evaluation of the functions provided by
each wetland within the project area and a measure of its areal extent.

The requirements for defining and mitigating impacts to wetlands are more rigorous than other vegetation
community types because of their protection under §404 of the Clean Water Act (see Chapter I).  The
placement of dredged or fill materials into wetlands or other waters of the U.S. requires that a §404
permit be obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Delineations are conducted as described in
the Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual  (USAGE, 1987), and are based on an assessment of
vegetative, hydrologic, and soils criteria. If jurisdictional wetlands are identified, the project must
comply with the §404(b)(l) guidelines (40 CFRPart 230).

Impacts to wetlands may occur directly or indirectly. Direct impacts could include removal for
development of a pit or filling as a result of construction of a tailings impoundment. Sediment
accumulation may impact wetlands on-site or downstream from the project area.

Mitigation Measures:

NEPA documentation for proposed mining activities should include mitigation measures which may or
will be used to minimize or avoid impacts to aquatic resources, vegetation, and wildlife.  Potential
mitigation measures for use at mine sites include:

       •       Employ sediment retention structures  to minimize the amount of sediment migrating off-

       •       Employ an effective spill prevention and control plan to minimize the discharge of
               toxic/hazardous materials into water bodies.

       •       Site roads, facilities and structures to minimize the extent of physical disturbance.

       •       Conduct temporary and permanent reclamation contemporaneously such that stockpiles,
               waste dumps, and roads not in use can be stabilized or moving toward final reclamation.

       •       Avoid construction or new disturbance during critical life stages.  For example, delay
               construction activities until after sage grouse strutting occurs at nearby leks.

       •       Reduce the chance of cyanide poisoning of waterfowl and other wildlife, particularly in
               arid environments, by neutralizing cyanide in tailings ponds or by installing fences and
               netting to keep wildlife out of ponds.  Explosive devices, radios,  and other scare tactics
               have generally not been proven effective.

       •       Minimize use offences or other such obstacles in big game migration corridors. If
               fences are necessary,  use tunnels, gates, or ramps to allow passage of these animals.

       •       Utilize "raptor proof designs on power poles to prevent electrocution of raptors.  For
               example, use anti-perching devices to discourage birds from perching or nesting on
               poles, or place conductors far enough apart to ensure both wings don't contact them at
               the same time.

       •       To minimize the number of animals killed on mine-related roadways, use buses to
               transport employees to and from the mine from an outer parking area.

       •       To limit impacts from habitat fragmentation, minimize the number of access roads and
               close and restore roads no longer in use.

       •       Prohibit use of firearms on site to minimize poaching.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers

The following are questions that may be appropriate to ask about mining operations when reviewing
NEPA documentation:

General Questions Applicable to Most Mining Operations

        •       Has the local geology been defined, including all stratigraphic layers to be encountered
               in mining?

        •       Has baseline data been collected to establish the surface water flow rates (including
               seasonal variability) and water quality (including sediments) prior to disturbance? Has
               the physical condition of streams within the project area been determined?  Has aquatic
               life been adequately characterized?  What are the designated and actual uses of surface
               water in the project area and downstream?

        •       What is the overall water balance for the facility? Have all potential discharges to
               groundwater and surface water been anticipated and described (and controls provided, as
               appropriate)? Does the applicant intend to obtain all necessary NPDES permits? Can
               the facility ensure compliance with applicable water quality standards?

        •       Has the hydrogeology of the site been mapped/clearly delineated? Has baseline
               groundwater quality been determined? What are the designated and actual uses of
               groundwater? What are the locations of all wells in the area and what are their uses?

        •       Has the erosion potential been quantified?  Have the appropriate runoff models been
               used? Are the assumptions defined and justified? Have the potential impacts on surface
               water been determined? Wherever possible, has model data been validated by
               comparison to actual field data? What runon and runoff control measures, including
               BMPs, will be used? Will they be maintained during active operations and afterward?

        •       Have baseline studies been conducted to characterize aquatic and terrestrial life/habitats
               prior to mining/disturbance?  Are there any threatened, endangered, or rare species
               and/or critical habitats in the  area? Have the requirements of the Endangered Species
               Act been followed?  What measures will be taken to protect wildlife/habitat, including

        •       Will any disturbance impact wetlands? If yes, what mitigation measures will be taken?
               If jurisdictional wetlands are  impacted, have CWA  §404(b) requirements been followed?

        •       Are the cumulative impacts over the life of the mine (including possible expansions)

        •       Is public access to the site controlled? Is wildlife access to the site controlled?  Is the
               control described?

        •       Have the pre- and post-mining land uses been compared?

        •       What wastes will be generated? In what volumes?  What are the expected compositions
               of waste materials?  What management practices will be used? Do waste/materials
               management units have liners?  Will adequate surface preparation be performed prior to
               liner installation?  Do units have drainage collection systems?  Leak detection systems?

        •       Have leachability tests been performed on wastes (for metals, sulfates, and other
               potential pollutants)? Have radionuclide levels been determined, (where appropriate)?

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
               If there is sulfide mineralization, has ARD/AMD testing been conducted? Is there a plan
               to continue waste characterization/acid generation testing during operations?

               Where wastes can generate ARD, what measures will be used to minimize acid
               generation and/or provide treatment prior to discharge? Are mitigation measures for
               ARD/AMD based on proven technologies (e.g., conventional treatment), state-of-the-art
               technologies, or passive treatment practices (e.g., wetlands)? If unproven methods are to
               be used, how will performance be monitored and have contingencies been provided for?

               Is there a multi-media monitoring program (including surface and groundwater,
               sediments, and air)?  Are proposed parameters representative of likely discharges?
               Where and how often will monitoring occur? Do monitoring frequencies account for
               seasonal/operational variability? If impacts are detected, what actions will be taken?
               How and to whom will data be reported?

               Is there a spill prevention and response plan? Does it address all areas where spills are
               likely to occur? Is secondary containment provided for storage areas and pipelines?

               Is there a reclamation/closure plan? Will concurrent reclamation be performed?  Have
               proposed revegetation procedures been successfully used in the area previously? Has
               long-term mine water management  been addressed?  After closure, will drainage
               systems/discharges continue to be monitored/maintained/addressed?

               Has the baseline air quality been determined?  How will air emissions be minimized?
               Have stack and fugitive emissions been characterized/predicted/modelled? What
               technologies will be used to control such emissions? How will any air pollution control
               wastes be managed? Does the project plan ensure compliance with Federal and State
               CAA requirements?  Has the baseline meteorology for the area been adequately
               characterized and data made available?
Mine Workings
               Is groundwater pumped to control water inflow into the mine workings/pit?  At what rate
               is the water pumped? Have the extent of aquifer drawdown and the subsequent impacts
               been described?

               Are all aquifers and surface waters that might be impacted identified and included in a
               monitoring plan? Are groundwater discharge areas (wetlands, ponds, lakes, streams,
               seeps, etc.) included in a monitoring plan? Does the monitoring plan account for
               seasonal variances?  If an impact is suspected, what responses are proposed?

               What are the consequences when mining and water withdrawal cease and the pit/mine
               workings are subsequently flooded? What action will be taken once mining stops and
               pumping is no longer employed to dewater the workings?

               Have the characteristics of the mine water been determined, including AMD?  Will
               collection and treatment be provided, as appropriate?
Waste Rock/Overburden
               How much overburden, waste rock, and ore will be excavated and stored or disposed of?
               Are planned management units described fully?

               Have leaching characteristics of waste rock/overburden been determined (including
               ARD)? How often during mining will leaching characteristics be evaluated?  What
               measures are proposed to ensure protection of groundwater and surface water from
               constituents leaching from waste rock dumps or overburden piles?

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
       •       Has the stability of waste management units/impoundments been determined? Did the
               analysis consider any seismic risk? Will adequate drainage of berms be provided? How
               will stability be measured during and after active operations?

       •       Is closure and reclamation of these waste rock/overburden described in detail? Is
               recontouring of the piles to stable slopes required?  Will concurrent reclamation be
               conducted, if appropriate?

Tailings Impoundments

       •       What are the constituents in the tailings?  What type of sampling was conducted and was
               it representative? Have leaching characteristics of tailings been determined? If so, what
               methods were employed?  How often will sampling and characterization be conducted
               during operation? Have reagents used during beneficiation been addressed in the
               constituent analysis?  What measures  are proposed to ensure protection of groundwater
               from constituents leaching from tailings impoundments?

       •       What other wastes does the operator dispose of in the tailings pond or tailings area?
               How are these materials managed as wastes?

       •       Does the project plan provide for maximum possible water reclaim/re-use?  Have all
               potential source reduction/recycling opportunities been identified and reviewed?

       •       Has adequate precipitation and snow melt data been compiled?  Have all
               collection/containment and treatment systems been properly designed to manage up to a
               specific storm event and snow melt contributions (i.e., are they appropriate for the
               predicted water balance)?

       •       What analysis was conducted to determine stability of any structures (i.e., dams or
               berms) associated with the tailings pile or pond? Did the analysis consider snow melt
               contributions? Did the analysis consider seismic risk? Does the document contain
               detailed drawings so that structural stability can be determined?  Have runon, runoff and
               unit capacity been evaluated?  Have these evaluations considered storm water and annual
               snow melt?

       •       Does the plan provide for maximum recycling/reuse of pond water? Is  there a surface
               water discharge? What are the expected flow rates and discharge characteristics?  Has
               adequate treatment been provided, if necessary?

       •       Is the closure and reclamation of the tailings ponds described in detail? What steps
               constitute closure?  Is recontouring of the pond required? Is a cap proposed?

Copper Dump Leach Operations and SX/EW Plants

       •       What is the planned design of the dumps?  How much material will be leached?  How
               will solution be applied? Has the stability of been determined? How will stability be
               measured during and after active operations?

       •       What are the characteristics of dump materials, including ARD potential? What type of
               sampling/testing was conducted and was it representative?  What analytical method was
               used to determine the constituents and what were the results? Are there any other wastes
               generated (e.g., bleed streams)? What are their characteristics and how will they be

       •       Is the leaching process a closed loop system (e.g., is all solution collected)?  What will
               the water balance be after leaching ceases?  Have the capacities of the solution transport
               ditches and collection ponds been evaluated considering process solutions and
               runoff/snow melt contributions? Are solution ditches and ponds lined/double-lined? Is
               there a leak detection/collection system?


                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
               How will reagents be transported/stored? Is there secondary containment/leak detection?
               Is there a spill prevention and response plan?

               How will the dump affect ground and surface water quality during leaching operations
               and after closure? Will monitoring be performed? Where, when, and for which

               Will the dump be operated on a seasonal basis? Are temporary closure procedures
               proposed? Will the dump be monitored on a regular basis during the inactive season?

               What is the proposed closure/reclamation plan? Will concurrent reclamation be
               conducted, if appropriate?
Cyanide Leaching Operations
               Are the heap leach pad and process ponds lined appropriately? Is a leak detection system
               in place and operational?  Is an adequate monitoring plan proposed?  What triggers
               (chemical constituents) are to be employed within the monitoring plan to signify the
               possibility of a leak? What are the proposed contingency plans in the event a leak is

               Has the stability of heaps/spent ore management units/impoundments been determined?
               Did the analysis consider any seismic risk? How will stability be measured during and
               after active operations?

               Has adequate precipitation and snow melt data been compiled? Have all
               collection/containment and treatment systems been properly designed to manage up to a
               specific storm event and snow melt contributions (i.e., are they appropriate for the
               predicted water balance)?

               Are the closure  of heaps described in detail? What is the closure treatment method?
               What "standard" will be used to measure successful closure? Do spent heaps present
               risks after closure, including ARD potential?

               Will the heap be operated on a seasonal basis? Are temporary closure procedures
               proposed?  Will the  heap be monitored on a regular basis during the inactive season?

               Will concurrent reclamation be conducted, if appropriate?

               How will reagents be transported/stored? What measures will be taken to prevent spills?
               Is there a spill prevention and control plan being developed?

               What measures  will be used to limit human and wildlife access to the leaching
In Situ Mining
               What are the proposed lixiviants?  Is there demonstration as to the integrity of the target
               aquifer?  Are injection and recovery rates sufficient to maintain a cone of depression
               within the target aquifer? Are monitoring plans developed to detect constituents of the
               lixiviant or an appropriate byproduct?  What are the contingency plans in the event of an
               excursion? What methods are proposed for aquifer restoration?

               Have waste streams been identified? What are the expected compositions of waste
               materials?  How are the end products of each waste stream managed?  Have
               radionuclide levels been determined, (where appropriate)?

               Are solution ditches and ponds lined?  Is there leak detection?  Is there a plan to address
               spills and leaks?

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
Milling Operations
       •       What types of beneficiation will be used at the mill?  What are the waste streams
               associated with these operations?  What are the constituents of each waste stream? What
               type of sampling was conducted to provide the description and was it representative?
               Were the waste streams tested using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure
               (TCLP) or other test method? What were the results?

       •       How will air emissions be minimized?  What technologies will be implemented for
               fugitive dust emission control? What performance standards were described for these
               technologies? How will air pollution control dust be managed?  If air pollution control
               dust will be reused, in what process will it be reused?

       •       How will waste streams be managed? Will on-site ponds be used?  Will water be
               recycled back to the process?

       •       Is closure and reclamation of the mill and surrounding area described in detail? Will the
               mill be disassembled after the operation is closed? Is the closure and reclamation
               proposed for the site described in detail?

       •       How will reagents be transported/stored?  Is there secondary containment?  Is there a
               plan to prevent/address spills or leaks of reagents, products, and wastes?

Smelting/Refining Operations

       •       What are the waste streams associated with the smelter or refining operation?  What are
               the constituents of each waste stream? What type of sampling was conducted? Was it
               representative? Were the waste streams tested using the TCLP or other test method?
               What were the results?

       •       How will waste water streams be treated and/or managed? Will on-site ponds be used?
               If so, will they be lined? Will the water be recycled back to the process?

       •       How will slag from the smelting furnace be managed?  Will any be recycled back to the

       •       How will emissions be minimized? What technologies will be implemented for fugitive
               dust and gas emission control? What performance standards were described for each of
               these technologies?  How will air pollution control dust be managed? If air pollution
               control dust will be reused, in what process will it be reused?  How and where will air
               pollution control sludge be managed?

       •       Where and how are wastes such as bleed electrolytes, acid rinsing, tank bottoms, vessel
               cleanouts, used oil, etc. being disposed  of? Is the facility permitted?

       •       For metallurgical sulfuric acid plants, how will acid blowdown be handled? What are
               the characteristics of the acid plant blowdown (constituent concentrations, etc.)?

Phosphoric Acid Production/Phosphogypstacks

       •       What is the specific manufacturing process used at the  site? What is the water balance
               for the facility?  What are the current and planned dimensions for the phosphogypstack
               and cooling ponds?

       •       What is the pH and chemical composition (phosphorous, sulfur, fluoride, radionuclides,
               metals, etc.) of the phosphogypsum and process wastewaters/cooling pond waters? If a
               leaching test was performed on the phosphogypsum, how was it performed? Because
               leachate is expected to have an extremely low pH (<1), a standard Toxicity
               Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) will likely underestimate leaching potential.


                                                   Background for NEPA Reviewers
What other wastes/wastewaters does the operator dispose of in the stacks and/or cooling

What is the capacity of the drainage system? Does it take local climatic factors into
consideration?  Is overflow anticipated? If yes, how will it be managed?

Was an analysis conducted to determine the structural stability of the phosphogypstacks?
Has the analysis been certified by a professional engineer (PE)? If applicable, did the
analysis consider snow loading?  Does the documentation include drawings to verify the
structural stability?

What measures will be used to limit public and wildlife access to the phosphogypstacks?

Is there a closure plan for the phosphogypstacks? How long will be  required for the
stack to fully drain? Will environmental monitoring continue after closure as long as the
potential for impacts remain?

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                         CHAPTER IV


The potential impacts associated with mining range from short-term (on the order of years) to long-term
(essentially in perpetuity). This chapter describes several of the potentially major impacts which, if they
occur, have long-term implications.  They include:

        •       Acid Drainage
        •       Releases from Cyanide Leaching Operations
        •       Sedimentation/Erosion
        •       Aquifer Drawdown


The formation of acid drainage and the contaminants associated with it has been described as the most
serious environmental problem facing the U.S. mining industry (U.S. Forest Service, 1993; Ferguson and
Erickson, 1988; Lapakko, 1993b). Commonly referred to as acid rock drainage (ARD) or acid mine
drainage (AMD), acid drainage from mine waste rock, tailings, and mine structures such as pits and
underground workings is primarily a function of the mineralogy of the rock material and the availability
of water and oxygen. While acid may be neutralized by the receiving water, dissolved metals can remain
in solution.  Dissolved metals in acid drainage may include the full suite of heavy metals, including lead,
copper,  silver, manganese, cadmium, iron, and zinc.

Acid is generated at mine sites when metal sulfide minerals are oxidized.  Primary factors in acid
generation include sulfide minerals,  water, oxygen, ferric iron, bacteria to catalyze the oxidation reaction,
and generated heat. Neutralization can occur from the alkalinity released when acid reacts with
carbonate minerals in waste/host rock.  The most common neutralizing minerals are calcite and dolomite.
Additional factors  of importance to acid generation include the physical nature of a waste/material, such
as particle size, permeability, and physical weathering characteristics.

Acid generation prediction tests are relied upon increasingly to assess the long-term potential of a
material or waste to generate acid. Because mineralogy and other factors affecting the potential for ARD
formation are highly variable from site to site, predicting the potential for ARD is currently difficult,
costly, and of questionable reliability.  Further, concern has developed because of the lag time at existing
mines between waste emplacement and observation of an acid drainage problem (University of
California, Berkeley, 1988). With acid generation,  there is no general method to predict its long-term
duration (in  some cases necessitating perpetual care). Regardless  of the method selected, the individual
applicant's pre-project testing should be representative of each rock type, provide good spatial coverage,
and be proportional to waste quantities.

There are two primary approaches to addressing ARD:  (1) avoiding mining deposits with high ARD
potential (identified through up front testing); and (2) implementing mitigation measures to limit potential
ARD impacts. In practice, the complete avoidance  of mining in areas with the potential to form ARD
may be  difficult due to the widespread distribution of sulfide minerals.  Specific mitigation measures

        •       Use of a low permeability cover to  isolate water (and oxygen) from acid forming

        •       Segregation of materials to minimize acid generation potential; for example, carbonate
               materials can be placed on the surfaces of piles, while potentially acid generating
               materials are placed below the surface.

        •       Blending of alkaline materials with acid forming materials within waste disposal units.

        •       Hydrologic controls (e.g., drainage systems) to reduce the amount of water percolating
               through acid forming wastes.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
       •       Use of bactericides (although bactericides ultimately have a limited life span).

       •       Placement of acid forming materials below the final potentiometric surface (ensuring
               sufficient water depth).

       •       Collection and treatment of drainage using neutralization/precipitation, anoxic limestone
               drains (ALDs), wetlands, or sulfate reducing bacteria.

For the most part, only limited data are available to document the long-term effectiveness of any of these
controls.  Further, individual site conditions significantly impact their feasibility and performance in the
field. In many cases, the measures described above are most effective when used in combination and
adapted to the situation at a specific site.


A substantial proportion of the sodium cyanide produced in the U.S. is now used by the mining industry;
over 100 million pounds were used by gold/silver leaching operations (both tank and heap leaching) in
1990, less than 5 million pounds for copper/molybdenum flotation, and much less than 5 million pounds
in lead/zinc flotation.  The acute toxicity of cyanide, and a number of major incidents, have focused
attention on the use of cyanide in the mining industry.

In general, cyanide can cause three significant types of potential environmental impacts: (1) cyanide-
containing ponds and ditches can present an acute hazard to wildlife and birds; (2) spills can result in
cyanide reaching surface water or  groundwater and causing short-term (e.g., fish kills) or long-term (e.g.,
contamination of drinking water) impacts; and (3) cyanide in active heaps and ponds and in mining
wastes may be released and present hazards to surface water or groundwater, and there may be
geochemical changes that affect the mobility of heavy metals. These impacts and the major issues and
uncertainties associated with each are described briefly below.

The heightened awareness of the threat to wildlife and birds presented by cyanide-containing ponds and
wastes have led to steps  to reduce/eliminate access to cyanide solutions  or to reduce cyanide
concentrations in exposed materials to below lethal levels. Operators can reduce access in several ways,
including covering solution ponds with netting or covers, using cannons and other hazing devices (e.g.,
decoy owls) to scare off waterfowl and other wildlife, and/or installing fencing to preclude access by
large wildlife. At least one mine uses tanks to contain all solutions. In addition, operators may elect to
treat tailings slurries to reduce cyanide concentrations, maintain higher fluid levels in impoundments to
dilute concentrations,  or reduce the amount of free liquids in impoundments to minimize pond surface

Most actual environmental impacts resulting from cyanide releases have been associated with spills and
major failures of containment structures. Heap leach operations use liner systems of various types under
heaps and solution ponds, which may have seepage collection/detection systems to control leaks. The
type of liner system that is used generally is based on site conditions, operator preference, and regulatory
requirements (Van Zyl, 1991). Liners are usually made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or high density
polyethylene (HDPE); recently, very low density polyethylene (VLDPE) liners have been developed. In
many cases where there have been significant liner failures, they have been due to improper
installation/inadequate construction QA/QC.

In general, cyanide is not believed to present a significant problem over the long term, particularly if the
obstacles to detoxification and reclamation are overcome.  As noted above, however, there are many
complexities associated with detoxification and reclamation; whether difficulties will be encountered is
seldom known at the time that the  potential environmental impacts of a mining operation are evaluated.
As a result, environmental documentation should describe contingency plans for overcoming possible
difficulties and potential impacts under these conditions.

If detoxification is successful, most residual cyanide in closed heaps and impoundments will be strongly
complexed with iron.  Although the stability of such complexes over long periods is not well understood,
cyanide is generally considered to be much less a long-term problem than acid generation, metals
mobility, and stability. Thus, evaluating the potential post-operational environmental impacts associated


                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
with cyanide in heaps, spent ore dumps, and tailings involves assessing the means by which operators
ensure that cyanide and its breakdown products and metallic complexes are contained and reduced to
environmentally benign levels prior to site abandonment. Conceptual plans for operators who will
detoxify and reclaim heaps and tailings are generally available at the time environmental impact
assessments are performed, but the details are not. Plans should describe not only what is anticipated to
occur at closure and reclamation (e.g., continued recycling of rinse water until WAD cyanide levels reach
regulatory standards) but also the environmental implications of potential difficulties and changes in


Because of the large area of land that is disturbed by mining operations and the large quantities of
earthen materials exposed at sites, erosion is frequently a primary concern at hardrock mining sites.
Erosion may cause significant loadings of sediments (and any entrained chemical pollutants) to nearby
streams, especially during severe storm events, as well as high snow melt periods.

Major sources of erosion/sediment loadings at mining sites can include:

•       Open pit areas                         •       Ore stockpiles
•       Heap and dump leaches        •      Vehicle and equipment maintenance areas
•       Waste rock and overburden piles        •       Exploration areas
•       Tailings piles                         •       Haul roads and access roads
•       Reclamation areas

The variability in natural site conditions (e.g., geology, vegetation, topography, climate, and proximity to
surface waters) combined with significant differences in the quantities and characteristics of exposed
materials at mines preclude any generalization regarding the quantities  and characteristics of sediment
loadings. Further, new sources are frequently located in areas with other active operations as well  as
historic mines (left in an unreclaimed state). Therefore, in considering the erosion effects from a mining
source, the cumulative impacts of sediment loadings from all sources within a watershed must be

The main factors influencing erosion include:

•       Rainfall/snow melt runoff             •       Vegetative cover
•       Infiltration                            •       Slope length
•       Soil texture and structure               •       Erosion control practices in place

Impacts associated with erosion/runoff from disturbed areas include particulate matter, which is toxic to
fish; contaminated sediments, which may pose long-term risks to human health and the environment; and
organic-laden solids, which have the effect of reducing dissolved oxygen concentrations. Beyond the
potential for pollutant impacts on human and aquatic life, there are physical impacts associated with the
increased runoff velocities and volumes from newly disturbed land.

A characterization of background  conditions within a potentially affected water body such as a  stream is
necessary to assess the potential impacts of new erosion/sedimentation  sources.  Important elements in
assessing background conditions are evaluations of the physical parameters and habitat of a stream.
There are currently several approaches/models available to assist in the prediction of sediment losses and
flow responses of basins both before and after landscape alterations due to mining and other human
activities. As with any models,  they are highly sensitive to the input data supplied and caution must be
used in identifying and quantifying the important factors for a specific project.

Sediment and erosion mitigation measures are used to reduce the amount of material carried off site and
deposited in a receiving stream. To meet this objective, mine operators should consider methods to limit
runon, minimize the areas of disturbed soil, reduce runoff velocity, and remove sediment from on-site
runoff before it leaves the site.  In many cases, a range of different BMPs/sediment and  erosion controls
are used concurrently at mine sites. The three main categories of sediment and erosion controls are
diversion techniques, stabilization practices, and structural  controls.  Diversion techniques are measures
that prevent runon, precipitation, and other flows from crossing areas where there is a risk of significant

                                                                   Background for NEPA Reviewers
erosion.  Stabilization refers to covering or maintaining an existing cover over soils. The cover may be
vegetation, such as grass, trees, vines, or shrubs.  Stabilization measures can also include nonvegetative
controls such as geotextiles (matting, netting or blankets), mulches, riprap, gabions (wire mesh boxes
filled with rock), and retaining walls. Finally, structural controls involve the installation of devices to
store flow or limit runoff velocity. Some examples of structural practices include settling
ponds/detention basins, check dams, rock outlet protection, level spreaders, gradient terraces, straw bale
barriers, silt fences, gravel or stone filter berms, brush barriers, sediment traps, grass swales, pipe slope
drains, earth dikes, and other controls such as entrance stabilization, waterway crossings  or wind breaks.

In some cases, the elimination of a pollution source through capping sources of erosion may be the most
cost effective control measure for sediment discharges and other pollutants.  Depending on the type of
management practices chosen, the cost to eliminate the pollutant source may be very high. Once
completed, however, maintenance costs  will range from low to none.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers

Aquifer drawdown and associated impacts to surface waters and adjacent wetlands can be a serious and
long-lasting problem, especially in areas where mining and subsequent pumping operations are
concentrated (e.g., the Carlin Trend).  Several mines in the Carlin Trend have continuous pumping rates
of 70,000 gallons/minute which could result in impacts to thousands of acres of riparian habitat. Impacts
from aquifer drawdown may include reduction or elimination of surface water flows; degradation of
surface water quality and beneficial uses; degradation of habitat (not only in riparian zones, springs, and
other wetland habitats, but also upland habitats as groundwater levels drop below the deep root zone);
reduced or eliminated production in domestic supply wells; and erosion, sedimentation, and other water
quality/quantity problems associated with discharge of pumped groundwater back into surface waters
downstream from the dewatered area.

Impacts can last for many decades.  While dewatering is occurring, discharge of the pumped water can
often be used to mitigate adverse  effects on surface waters. However, when dewatering ceases, the cones
of depression, which may take many decades to recharge, may continue to reduce surface water flows in
nearby rivers and tributaries. Mitigation measures that rely on the use of pumped water to create
wetlands, for example, last only as long as the dewatering occurs.

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                          CHAPTER V

                              ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING


Surface water monitoring should include both discharge and instream water quality sampling.  Instream
monitoring should address both the water column and sediments. Parameters such as flow rate and
temperature typically are measured either continuously or instantaneously. Monitoring for other
parameters, including metals, TSS, etc., is performed by collecting grab or composite samples. The
likely characteristics of discharges should be described in NEPA documentation and provide the basis for
selection of monitoring parameters.  Where a wide range of pollutants (that may have cumulative toxic
affects) or a particular pollutant (known to  be toxic) are expected to be present, whole effluent toxicity
(WET) testing is often appropriate. Determination of whether to measure dissolved or total pollutant
concentrations is generally based on the nature of the applicable water quality standards.

Instream water quality monitoring should be performed immediately downstream of pollutant sources
(including controlled and uncontrolled discharges and potentially contaminated seeps/groundwater
recharge).  Baseline data should be collected prior to disturbance. Reviewers should be aware that,
unlike many other types of industrial operations and discharges, there can be extreme variability in
pollutant loadings from mining operations, both from day to day and over months and years. Further, the
receiving water may be particularly sensitive to loadings of toxic pollutants during specific periods (e.g.,
under certain flow conditions). In performing baseline analyses, the operator should ensure that these
conditions are identified (as well as determining background concentrations).  The discharge and surface
water sampling program should then be tailored to include sampling and analysis during these critical


Siting of groundwater monitoring wells requires a characterization of the baseline groundwater resources
in the project area, including descriptions of aquifers (bedrock and alluvial), aquifer characteristics, and
the flow regime/direction for each aquifer.  The influences  of bedrock fracturing should also be
mapped/determined. This information can then be used, along with the locations of potential
contaminant sources, to install upgradient and downgradient monitoring wells.  Detection wells should be
sited immediately downgradient of pollutant sources. NEPA documentation should describe the location,
depth, construction/completion data, and sampling and analytical methods for all wells. Monitoring
parameters should be selected based on the nature of contaminant sources. Indicator parameters such as
pH, sulfate, specific conductance, and dissolved solids often provide an early indication that releases are
occurring.  In general, two years of background monitoring data are necessary to establish a baseline for
all parameters.  Further, upgradient monitoring should continue during operations to detect any changes
in baseline conditions.

To  detect releases, mean downgradient parameter values are typically compared to upgradient/baseline
values to detect statistically significant differences in groundwater  quality. A wide range of statistical
procedures maybe used for such comparisons. After a release has  been detected, more frequent
monitoring, analyses for additional parameters, and/or installation and sampling of new wells may be
necessary to fully characterize the extent of releases.


Monitoring for air pollutants from industrial operations typically is performed at the exit points of stacks,
process vents, etc. Air monitoring locations for more dispersed operations, such as surface mining, may
be performed at reasonable alternative locations, such as the facility boundary, and may involve
comparison of upwind and downwind sampling results.  Selection of monitoring locations requires an
understanding of site-specific meteorological conditions that can affect pollutant fate and transport.
Monitoring maybe either continuous or by grab or composite samples. Continuous monitoring of stack
and vent effluents usually is performed for such parameters as oxygen and carbon monoxide
concentrations, effluent gas temperature and velocity, etc. Parameters such as organics, metals, and
particulates are monitored by analysis of discrete samples.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
Particulates are measured at process vents by drawing a specified volume of air through a high-efficiency
particulate (HEPA) filter and then weighing the filter to determine the gain in weight caused by the
trapped particulates.  Metals in the particulates can be determined by X-ray fluorescence, or by extracting
the metals into an aqueous acid and determining the dissolved metals by inductively-coupled plasma
(ICP) or atomic absorption (AA) spectrometry.  Routine particulate monitoring at dispersed locations is
accomplished with passive particulate filters situated downwind from the industrial operations.


A project plan may provide for soil sampling to detect potential contamination from specific operations
(e.g., to study metals emissions from stacks).  Soil sampling may also be triggered by uncontrolled
releases and can be used to monitor the effectiveness of corrective actions (e.g., to determine the
effectiveness of spill clean-up measures).  Sampling should be performed at locations where impacts are
suspected (based on likely pollutant fate and transport). Since metals naturally occur in all soils,
background samples for total metals must be obtained for comparison to suspected contaminated
samples.  Organic contaminants, and certain inorganics such as cyanide, are presumed not to be naturally
occurring, and background sampling for these constituents is seldom performed unless another source of
contamination is suspected.

Soil samples  can be collected by a variety of methods. Surface samples usually can be  obtained easily
using simple hand tools such as scoops or shovels.  Surface samples normally are analyzed as grab
samples, although background samples usually are  composited to provide average values. Subsurface
samples can be obtained with an auger or a split-spoon sampler. Cores from subsurface samples typically
are divided into sections according to the depth below the surface, and a composite sample is obtained
from each section. In addition to chemical analyses, the physical appearance and lithology of subsurface
cores also should be recorded.

Additional investigative techniques for soils (where contamination is likely), such as soil gas monitoring
and cone penetrometer  surveys, also may be conducted according to the suspected nature and extent of
soil contamination.


Waste stream samples can either be solids, liquids, or both, and also may contain immiscible organic
phases. The wide variety of waste sample matrices and constituents makes generalization of sampling
techniques difficult.  Any of the sampling and analytical techniques discussed previously for other

                                                                   Background for NEPA Reviewers
sample types may be applicable to waste samples. At mine sites, selection of parameters should be based
on the local geology as well as potential contamination originating from site operations (cyanide from
leaching, mill reagents, etc.).  Standardized leaching procedures such as the Toxicity Characteristic
Leaching Procedure and ASTM methods can be used to predict metals mobility from waste matrices.

Of particular concern at mine sites where sulfide mineralization is encountered is the potential for acid
drainage from waste rock and tailings.  Examination of the lithology of waste rock and subores may help
predict the potential for acid drainage and contamination by toxic metals.  If static  or kinetic acid
generation testing is performed, the reviewer should be aware of the significant uncertainty associated
with existing test results (especially static test data).

Mining wastestreams such as tailings piles and phosphogypsum stacks can contain appreciable quantities
of radionuclides. The radioactivity of a waste can be measured as total radiation of a particular type,
such as gross alpha or gross beta; the activities of individual nuclides also can be determined.

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                         CHAPTER VI

                                 POLLUTION PREVENTION

The environmental review process provides valuable opportunities for incorporating pollution prevention
into proposed mining projects during siting, design, construction, operation, and closure.  The Pollution
Prevention Act of 1990 establishes a national policy of pollution prevention. NEPA's very purpose is "to
promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment..." (42 U.S.C 4321)  §101 of
NEPA declares a policy that the Federal government "use all practical means and measures... to  create
and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in harmony... (42 U.S.C 4331 (a))."
Additionally, NEPA's implementing regulations are designed with the goal of preventing or minimizing
environmental degradation. These authorities provide sufficient basis for including pollution prevention
opportunities into proposed design and operating alternatives. Pollution prevention can also be
incorporated into mitigation measures, although it is important to recognize that the goal of pollution
prevention is to avoid impacts altogether.

The formal definition of "pollution prevention" refers to source  reduction and other practices that reduce
or eliminate the creation of pollutants. Pollution prevention is a multi-media approach that minimizes or
eliminates waste or emissions to land, air, and water without transferring pollutants from one media to
another. Pollution prevention techniques include:

        •       Equipment or technology modifications;
        •       Process or procedure modifications;
        •       Teformulation or redesign of products;
        •       Dubstitution of raw materials; and,
        •       Improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training, or inventory control.

While not always included in narrow definitions of pollution prevention (that focus only on source
reduction), other pollution reduction/waste minimization opportunities such as recycling, procurement of
recycled products, and energy recovery can also reduce the need for waste treatment and disposal, as well
as conserving energy and natural resources.

There are several broad categories of actions available to mining operations that can serve to reduce
pollution generation or release, whether over the short or longer terms or both. It is emphasized,
however, that any examination of pollution prevention alternatives has to recognize that mining  presents
unique challenges that require creative approaches. These categories include:

        •       Specific actions that are common to any large industrial operation, related to vehicle and
               equipment operation and maintenance. There are many opportunities for product
               substitutes (e.g., solvents) and recycling (e.g., lubricating oils and grease).

        •       More general actions that reflect facility-wide and process-specific examinations of all
               operations to identify opportunities for increasing operational efficiency and conserving
               energy and resources.  Facility-wide "pollution prevention plans" are one manifestation
               of these types of actions.  The process of having to complete such a plan can not only
               improve environmental performance but may also lead to major cost savings.  Perhaps
               equally as important, overt management attention to environmental performance and
               pollution prevention sends a powerful message throughout an organization, which can
               only be reflected in continual improvements.  Similarly, plans to implement rigorous
               plans to ensure good housekeeping and inventory control can promise improved
               environmental performance.

        •       Specific actions to reduce the environmental "footprint."  Mining operations cause
               massive land disturbance, often over large areas. Reducing the total amount of
               disturbance—by reducing the size of the site itself and/or by leaving as much undisturbed
               areas as possible within the site can have several benefits.  Minimizing on-site
               disturbance and leaving "islands" of undisturbed areas, for example, can not only reduce

                                                    Background for NEPA Reviewers
erosion during a site's active life, but also can provide micro-habitats that speed up
ultimate site reclamation and repopulation by native flora and fauna.

Specific actions to reduce environmental releases and damages. These include site-
specific design and operational measures that account for waste generation and potential
releases during the active life and after. This can ensure, for example, that initial designs
of waste units or plans for the long-term stability of the site take into account the
ultimate configuration of the site and its characteristics (e.g., topography, hydrogeology,
acid potential).

                                                              Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                      CHAPTER VII

                                   LIST OF CONTACTS

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Steve Hoffman        Office of Solid Waste,                             (703) 308-8413
                     Office of Special Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER)

James Taft            Office of Water,                                         (202)260-9545
                     Office of Water Management (OWM)

Joseph Tieger         Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance            (202) 260-3104

Hazel Groman         Office of Water,                                         (202)260-8798
                     Office of Watersheds, Oceans, and Wetlands (OWOW)

Elaine Suriano         Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance,            (202) 260-5909
                     Office of Federal Activities (OFA)

Van Housman         Office of Solid Waste,                                    (703) 308-8419
                     Office of Special Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER)

Randy Hill            Office of General Council                                 (202)260-7629

Larry Eccles          Office of Research and Development,                       (702)798-2385
                     Environmental Monitoring and Surveillance Laboratory (EMSL)

Rob Walline          Region VIE Mine Waste                                  (303) 294-7093
                     Task Force

U.S. Department of the Interior:
RickDeery           BLM, Minerals Staff                                     (202)452-0530

Jinx Fox              BLM, Minerals Staff                                     (202) 452-0354

Rodger Griffith BLM, Mineral Policy and                                 (202) 452-0375
                     Economic Evaluation

U.S. Forest Service:
TzoMing                                                                   (202)205-1238

National Park Service:
Brett Bates                                                                   (202) 253-4964

Chris McKinnon      Western Governors Assn.                                 (303) 623-9378

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                        CHAPTER VIII


Access Road: A route constructed to enable plant, supplies, and vehicles to reach a mine, quarry, or
open pit.

Acid Mine Drainage (AMD): See Acid Drainage.

Acid Drainage: Water from pits, underground workings, waste rock and tailings containing free sulfuric
acid.  The formation of acid drainage is primarily due to the weathering of iron pyrites and other sulfur-
containing minerals. Acid drainage can mobilize and transport heavy metals which are characteristic of
metal ore deposits.

Acid Rock Drainage (ARD):  See Acid Drainage.

Acid Generation Potential: A material's potential to generate acid and produce acid drainage.
Analytical tests used to assess a materials' acid generation potential are either static or kinetic.

Acid Potential (AP): A common static test that estimates the maximum amount of acid that can be
generated by a given material.  The AP is determined by multiplying the percent of total sulfur in the
sample by a scaling factor.  For example, AP = 31.25 * %S.  AP is typically used in conjunction with
neutralization potential in various acid-base-accounting (ABA) measures.

Acid-Base-Accounting (ABA):  Various methods of ABA consist of static tests that attempt to evaluate
the potential for acid generation and drainage by comparing various measures of acid-forming and acid-
neutralizing materials found in the mine waste or mine workings.

Adit: A horizontal or nearly horizontal passage driven from the surface for the working or dewatering of
a mine. (Dictionary)

Alluvium: Clay, silt, sand, gravel, or other rock materials transported by flowing water and deposited as
sorted or semi-sorted sediments in river beds, estuaries, and floor plains, on lakes, shores and in fans at
the base of mountain slopes, and estuaries.

Barren Solution:  A solution in hydrometallurgical treatment from which valuable constituents have
been recovered.  In heap and dump leaching, the barren solution is applied to the surface of the  ore to
dissolve metals as it percolates downward, in the process becoming  "pregnant solution."

Beneficiation:  The dressing or processing of ores for the purpose of (1) regulating the size of the
desired product; (2) removing unwanted constituents; and (3) improving the quality, purity, or assay
grade of a desired product.  For purposes of RCRA, beneficiation operations include crushing, grinding,
washing, dissolution, crystallization, filtration, sorting, sizing, drying, sintering, pelletizing, briquetting,
calcining to remove water and/or carbon dioxide, roasting, autoclaving and/or chlorination in preparation
for leaching (except where the roasting and/or autoclaving and/or chlorination/leaching sequence
produces a final or intermediate product that does not undergo further beneficiation or processing),
gravity concentration, magnetic separation, electrostatic separation,  flotation, ion exchange,  solvent
extraction, electrowinning, precipitation, amalgamation, and heap, dump, vat, tank and in situ leaching.
In common usage, many of these beneficiation operations are referred to as  "processing."

Bond, Reclamation Bond:  A performance bond whereby the operator of a mine posts some type of
financial assurance that is sufficient to pay for part or all of a mine's closure/reclamation in the event that
the operator does not do so.

Closure:  Often used in the past as a synonym for reclamation, the term "closure" is coming to mean the
process of stabilizing a mine site, both chemically and physically, prior to revegetation and other
reclamation/restoration activities.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
Concentration: The separation and accumulation of economic minerals from undesirable minerals.

Cyanidation: An efficient process of dissolving gold with cyanide solutions, typically sodium or
potassium cyanide. Various cyanidation processes are capable of extracting gold, with up to 90 percent
efficiency, in amounts as small as 0.25 percent of an ounce from a ton of rock (0.0025 oz/ton).  The most
common processes are carbon-in-pulp (CIP),  carbon-in-leach (CIL), and heap leach/carbon-in-column
(CIL). The former two are used on finely ground higher grade  ores (>0.05 oz/ton). The latter uses
pregnant solutions recovered from heap leaching of lower grade ores (down to =0.01  oz/ton).

Disseminated Ore: Ore in which the valuable mineral is more or less evenly distributed throughout the
undesirable mineral as crystals or aggregates of a regular size.  Because disseminated ores typically are
relatively lower grades, surface mining techniques  (i.e., open pits) are more often used to exploit the ore
bodies, and the waste to ore ratio is much higher for such ores.

Drift: An underground horizontal passage.

Dump Leaching: A beneficiation operation most  often used to extract metal values  from subore-grade
materials in which dilute acid, or water, is percolated through piles of low grade ore (or old waste rock or
tailings). The solution is collected at the bottom of the pile, or dump, and then subjected to additional
beneficiation operations to recover the metal values. Dump leaching is most commonly used in the
copper industry, with copper being recovered from the pregnant leachate solutions through solvent
extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW).

Electrowinning:  A means of recovering metals from solution  using electrochemical processes. It is
usually found as a primary metal recovery activity  in conjunction with acid or cyanide leaching.
Pregnant leaching solution is fed into tanks where electric  currents cause metal to be deposited on a
cathode. During this process, the solution used in leaching is regenerated and recycled.  Electrowinning
is often used to recover copper, zinc, nickel, and cobalt from acid leaching operations. In the case of
gold mining and beneficiation, gold is absorbed by activated carbon from cyanide leach solutions and
then recovered from the carbon by chemical stripping. Electrowinning is then used to recover gold from
the pregnant stripping solution.

Extraction: The process of mining: removing ores, minerals,  and brines from existing geologic

Flotation:  A milling (beneficiation) process wherein finely ground ore (talc- to sand-sized) is introduced
to a circuit where chemical reagents and/or air are introduced to concentrate the valuable minerals.  The
valuable minerals adhere to air bubbles and float to the top. The less valuable components (the gangue)
sink to the bottom and are removed as tailings.  Polymetallic sulfide ores may be subjected to two or
more flotation circuits to recover different target metals.

Flux: A chemical substance used in metallurgy to react with gangue minerals to form slag which is
liquid at the furnace temperatures concerned, and low enough in density to float on the molten bath or
metal or matte. Examples of fluxes range in scale from large tonnages of limestone, silica, etc., in large
smelting furnaces, to small quantities of borax, soda, etc., used in laboratory assay fusions.

Hard Rock Mining: Technically encompassing the mining of igneous  and metamorphic rocks, the term
is most often used for the mining of metal ores.

Haul Road:  A road specifically built to carry heavily loaded trucks at the mine site.

Heap Leaching:  A beneficiation method used to extract precious metals (gold and silver) from low
grade, usually oxidized ores. Generally, crushed or run-of-mine ore is placed on an impervious surface
(the  "pad"), and leached over a period of time with "barren solution," usually a dilute cyanide solution.
When the solution percolates through the ore, it dissolves gold  (and some other metals), forming a
"pregnant solution" that is collected and treated to  recover the precious metals.

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
Industrial Minerals: Non-metallic, non-fuel minerals used in their natural state. They may require
some beneficiation. Examples include: salt,  sand, clay, gravel, building stone, and asbestos.

Kinetic Test:  One of two major categories of tests used to predict the occurrence of acid drainage from
mine wastes or mine workings (static tests comprise the other category). Kinetic tests involve repetitive
cycles of leaching and monitoring under controlled conditions in the laboratory or field. Ideally, kinetic
tests yield information on the extent and timing of acid generation.

Leaching: A beneficiation process wherein one or more soluble metal compounds is dissolved in a
suitable solvent, such as water, or sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, cyanide, or other solutions.  Following
leaching, the valuable metal is recovered from the lixiviant solvent and the solvent is typically refortified
and reused.

Leasable Minerals:  Coal, oil, gas, phosphate, and certain other fuel and chemical minerals on Federal
lands which can be leased under the Mineral  Leasing Act of 1920, as amended, and the Mineral Leasing
Act for Acquired Lands of 1947.

Lixiviant: A liquid medium used to collect minerals in solution.

Locatable Minerals: Minerals subject to location (and to claiming and development) under the general
mining laws. In general, these include non-fuel metallic minerals (except uranium) and uncommon
varieties of other non-fuel minerals on certain Federal lands (e.g., public domain lands open to mineral
Lode Deposit, Lode Mining: Traditionally, these terms meant a discrete mineral deposit that occurred
between the walls of a vein, fissure, or crack in the earth's surface, and the activities associated with
mining the deposit, respectively.  With the advent of mining technologies that allow economic
exploitation of disseminated ores, the term "lode deposit" has come to include these ore bodies and this
type of mining and "lode mining" has come to mean nearly any hardrock mining for metals.

Mill: A plant where ore is concentrated by one or more beneficiation methods.

Mine: An opening or excavation in the earth for the purpose of excavating minerals.

Mining: The process of obtaining useful minerals from the earth's crust or from mine wastes.

Mine Water: Water that must be removed from the mine to gain or facilitate access to the ore body. For
surface mines, mine water can originate from precipitation or groundwater flows into the pit.  In
underground mines, mine water originates from groundwater aquifers that are intercepted by the mine.
(EIS Guidance)

Mineral Rights:  The ownership of the minerals under a given surface area, with the right to remove the
minerals.  (Dictionary)

Net Neutralization Potential (NNP): A method to evaluate the potential of a waste or material to
generate more acid products than can be neutralized in the waste/material, and thus to generate acid
drainage.  NNP is calculated as the difference between acid production potential (AP) and neutralization
potential (NP).  Another common method is the ratio of NP to AP.

Neutralization Potential (NP):  The measure of carbonate material in mined materials or mine
workings, which is then theoretically available to neutralize acid generated by the materials/workings.

Ore:  A natural mineral compound or mineral aggregate containing precious  or other valuable metals (or,
less commonly, non-metallic minerals) in sufficient quantities, grade, and chemical combination as to
make extraction commercially viable.

                                                                  Background for NEPA Reviewers
Overburden: Material of any nature, consolidated or unconsolidated, that overlies the ore that must be
removed to expose the ore body or deposit during mining.

Oxide Ore/Mineral: Metalliferous minerals that have been altered, by weathering and surface water,
into oxides, carbonates, or sulfates. Prior to mining, oxidation is a function of natural weathering and
any acid generation occurs extremely slow.  Mining activities greatly increase the surface area of mine
waste and workings that are exposed to weathering agents and thus greatly increase the rate of the
chemical reactions that can generate acid drainage. In addition,  cyanidation processes for gold recovery,
including heap leaching, are most efficient on oxide ores or on sulfide or carbonaceous ores that have
been artificially oxidized (e.g., by autoclaving or chlorination or biotreatment).

Pad:  The prepared surface and base of a heap that is leached to recover precious metals. The pad can be
as simple as compacted native soils, but is more commonly a multiple liner system overlying a
compacted undersurface. Often, the terms "pad" or "heap leach pad" are used to refer to the entire heap
leach system, including both the liner system and the heap itself.

Placer Deposit: A mass of gravel, sand, or similar material resulting from the crumbling and erosion of
solid rocks and containing particles or nuggets of gold, platinum, tin, or other valuable minerals.

Plan of Operations/Operating Plan: A  detailed description of the site and the proposed operation,
including measures that will be taken to prevent or mitigate environmental degradation and to reclaim the
site to regulatory standards. For operations that meet specified size and operational conditions, operators
must submit proposed plans and land management agencies (e.g., Bureau of Land Management, US
Forest Service) must approve the plans before operations can commence.

Pregnant Solution: Metal-laden leachate solution that is captured at the bottom of a heap or dump that
is being leached to dissolve metals from the ore.  Metal values (gold, silver, or copper)  are then recovered
from the pregnant solution, which then becomes barren solution that is typically refortified and reapplied
to the heap or dump.

Processing: The further treatment of ores and minerals following extraction and/or beneficiation for the
purpose of removing unwanted parameters, improving the quality or purity grade of the desired product,
and serving to produce a final mineral product or an intermediate to final mineral product.  In common
usage, the term "processing" may be used to refer to various beneficiation processes.

Reclamation: Actions to minimize the environmental disruption from mining and mineral processing
operations and provide for the rehabilitation of land affected by mining and mineral processing
operations through the use of plant cover, soil stabilization, natural system restoration,  or other measures
appropriate to the subsequent use of the land. In some uses, "reclamation" includes chemical and
physical stabilization of the mine site (i.e., "closure").

Refining: The purification of crude metallic products into purer forms. (Dictionary)

Roast:  The heating of ores that contain carbonaceous material in order to transform organic carbon into
inorganic carbon. Carbonaceous ores may be roasted to increase gold recovery efficiency, since organic
carbon greatly reduces gold dissolution by cyanidation.

Shaft: A vertical or steeply inclined opening from the surface down through the strata to the mineral to
be developed.  (Dictionary)

Sintering: The use of prolonged heat treatment to agglomerate small particles to form larger particles,
cakes, or masses without complete fusion or melting.  Sintering is used to make fine material into larger
or coarser particles more suitable for further beneficiation or processing.

Smelting:  The chemical reduction of a metal from its ore (more commonly,  from its concentrated ore)
by a process that usually involves fusion,  so that the impurities in the material separate as lighter and
more fusible slags and thus can be readily removed from the reduced metal.

                                                                 Background for NEPA Reviewers
Solvent Extraction: A separation technique that is carried out by causing an organic solvent to come
into contact with an aqueous solution containing dissolved mineral values. At the interface of the two
liquids, the mineral values are transferred from the aqueous solution to the organic solvent, which is
selected to recover only the desired metal. The mineral value is then removed from the solvent using a
different aqueous solution.  The solvent remains chemically unchanged and is typically regenerated and
reused.  Solvent extraction is commonly used to remove copper from ore leach solutions.

Static Test: One of two major categories of tests used to predict the occurrence of acid drainage from
mine wastes or mine workings (kinetic tests  comprise the other category). Static tests are typically based
on bulk analyses of samples at one point in time. Typically, results are used to measure and compare
various measures of acid potential (AP) and  neutralization potential (NP), through many acid-base-
accounting (ABA) and other methods.  Static tests cannot predict long-term trends in drainage chemistry,
although they may be useful in determining whether acid drainage is likely to occur at some later time.

Subore:  See ore.  Subore is mined material  that has lower concentrations of the desired metal than ore.
Subore may be managed separately from waste rock in the event that future beneficiation and metals
recovery becomes economical.

Sulfide Ore/Mineral:  Ore in which sulfide minerals predominate. Sulfides of many metals (e.g., zinc,
copper, iron, arsenic) are considered "cyanicides," which destroy cyanide or interfere with gold-cyanide
reactions.  As a result, some sulfide ores may require roasting or other artificial oxidation to increase
gold recovery efficiency.  In addition, exposure of sulfide minerals in mine waste or mine workings to
oxygen and water can accelerate oxidation and result in acid generation and the mobilization of heavy
metals in acid drainage.

Tailings:  The coarsely and finely ground portions of mined material that has been separated from the
valuable minerals during beneficiation (crushing, grinding, and concentration).  The physical and
chemical nature of the tailings varies according to the ore being milled and the milling operations used to
beneficiate the ore.

Waste Rock:  Non-mineralized and low-grade mineralized rock removed from above or within the ore
body during extraction activities. Waste rock includes granular, broken rock, and soils ranging in size
from fine sand to large boulders, with the fines content largely dependent on the nature of the formation
and the methods employed during mining.

                                                               Background for NEPA Reviewers
                                        CHAPTER IX


Adamus, P.R., EJ. Clairain, Jr., R.D. Smith, and R.E. Young. 1987. Wetlands Evaluation Technique
       (WET); Volume II: Methodology. Operational Draft Technical Report Y-87-_, U.S. Army Corps
       of Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS.

Beard, R.R.  1990 (October).  The Primary  Copper Industry of Arizona in 1989. State of Arizona
       Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, Special Report No. 16.

Environmental Law Institute.  1992 (November).  State Regulation of Mining  Waste: Current State of the

Ferguson, K. D. and P. M. Erickson. 1988.  Pre-Mine Prediction of Acid Mine Drainage.  In: Dredged
       Material  and Mine Tailings. Edited by Dr. Willem Salomons and Professor Dr. Ulrich Forstner.
       Copyright by Springer-Verlag. Berlin, Heidelberg.

Hackel, R.P.  1990 (December). "Operating a Commercial-Scale Bioleach Reactor at the Congress Gold
       Property." Mining Engineering.

Harrelson, C.C., C.L. Rawlins, and J.P. Potyondy. 1994. Stream Channel Reference Sites: An
       Illustrated Guide to Field Technique. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Fort
       Collins, CO.

Lapakko, K. 1993b. Mine Waste Drainage  Quality Prediction:  A Literature Review.  Draft Paper.
       Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Minerals, St. Paul, MN.

Lopes, R.F., and R.J. Johnston.  1988 (August). "A Technical Review of Heap Leaching." In
       Environmental Management for the 1990s, proceedings of the Symposium on Environmental
       Management for the 1990s. Denver, CO.  February 25-28, 1991. D.J. Lootens, W.M.
       Greenslade, and J.M.  Barker (editors).  Littleton, CO: Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and
       Exploration, Inc.

Platts, W.S., W.F. Megahan, and G.W. Minshall.   1983. Methods for Evaluating Stream, Riparian, and
       Biotic Conditions.  General Technical Report INT-138.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S.
       Forest Service, Ogden, UT.

Ritcey, G.M.  1989.  "Tailings Management, Problems and Solutions in the Mining Industry." Process
       Metallurgy 6.

U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. 1988 (September).  Copper: Technology and
       Competitiveness. OTA-E-367. U.S. Government Printing Office.  Washington, DC.

U.S. Department  of Agriculture, Forest Service.  1993. Acid Mine Drainage From Mines  on the
       National  Forests, A Management Challenge.  Program Aid  1505, p.12.

U.S. Department  of the Army, Corps of Engineers. 1987.  Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation
       Manual.  Final Technical Report Y-87-1.  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental
       Laboratory, Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS.

U.S. Department  of Interior, Bureau of Mines.  1978.  Processing Gold Ores Using Heap Leach-Carbon
       Adsorption Methods.  Information Circular No. 8770. Washington, DC.

U.S. Department  of Interior, Bureau of Mines.  1984.  Gold and Silver Leaching Practices in the United
       States. Information Circular No.  8969. Washington, DC.

                                                               Background for NEPA Reviewers
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Effluent Guidelines Division.  1982 (May).
       Development Document for Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Ore Mining
       and Dressing Point Source Category. EPA 440/1-82/061.  Washington, DC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1985a. Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission  Factors:
       Volume 1, Stationary Point and Area Sources. Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards.
       Research Triangle Park, NC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste.  1985b (December). Report to Congress -
       Wastes from the Extraction and Beneficiation of Metallic Ores,  Phosphate Rock, Asbestos,
       Overburden from Uranium Mining, and Oil Shale.  EPA 530-SW-85-033. Washington, DC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1989. Final Report: Copper Dump Leaching and Management
       Practices that Minimize the Potential for Environmental Releases.  Prepared by PEI Associates,
       Inc. (Hearn, R. and Hoye, R.) under U.S. EPA Contract No. 68-02-3995.  Washington, DC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1989. Rapid Bioassessment Protocols for Use  in Streams and
       Rivers:  Benthic Macroinvertebrates and Fish. EPA/440/4-89/001.  Washington, DC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1990. Report to Congress on Special Wastes from Mineral
       Processing.  EPA/530-SW-90-070C. Washington, DC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1993. Habitat Evaluation: Guidance for the Review of
       Environmental Impact Assessment Documents.  Washington, DC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Federal Activities.  1994.  EIA  Guidelines for Mining:
       Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines for New Source NPDES Permits.  Washington,

University of California at Berkeley. 1988 (July). Mining Waste Study,  Final Report. Prepared for the
       California State Legislature. Berkeley, CA.

van Zyl, D.J.A., I.P.G. Hutchinson, and J.E. Kiel (editors).  1988. Introduction to Evaluation Design and
       Operation of Precious Metal Heap Leaching Projects. Society  for Mining, Metallurgy, and
       Exploration, Inc. Littleton, CO.

Weiss, N.L. (editor). 1985. SME Mineral Processing Handbook, Volume 2. New York: Society of
       Mining Engineers.

Wildlife Society, The.  1980.  Wildlife Management Techniques Manual. Fourth Edition: Revised.
       Sanford D. Schemnitz (editor).  Washington, DC.


Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §§1251-1387)

Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. §§7401-7626)

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (42 U.S.C. §§6901 -6992k)

Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. §§1531-1544)

National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. §470 et seq)

Mining Law of 1872 (30 U.S.C. §§22-54)

Federal Land Policy Management Act (43 U.S.C. §§1701-1782)

National Park System Mining Regulation Act (16 U.S.C. §§1901-1912)

                                                               Background for NEPA Reviewers
Organic Act of 1897 (16 U.S.C. §§473-482, 551)

Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 1960 (16 U.S.C. §§528-531)

Forest Service Organic Legislation (16 U.S.C. §§475, 477, 478, 481, 551)

Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (30 U.S.C. §§181-287)

Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands (30 U.S.C. §§351-359)