Neighbors tour Newmont’s new water treatment facility |

Neighbors tour Newmont’s new water treatment facility

The Newmont Mining Corporation has installed a water treatment system to remove mining contaminants from Drew Tunnel flows, which discharge to Wolf Creek.
John Hart/ | The Union

City officials, working alongside representatives from Newmont Mining and Active Treatment Systems, held a tour Monday for members of the local media and nearby residents to get an up-close look at the new water treatment plant that went live Sept. 25.

The facility uses a green-sand filter to remove iron, manganese and small amounts of arsenic from mine water flowing through the Drew Tunnel, which is a component of the North Star Mine site.

Jim Brown, from Active Treatment Systems, said the new filter uses sand and anthracite to solidify unwanted metals dissolved in the mine water.

“They fall out of the solution, and basically convert from a liquid into a solid,” Brown said.

At this concentration, iron and manganese are said to be aesthetic problems affecting the scent and taste of the water, not public health issues. Still, Brown said personnel on-site would take readings upstream and downstream from the new site to make sure that concentrations of iron and manganese are going down after treating the water, rather than up.

Tim Kiser, Grass Valley’s director of Public Works, said the facility has drastically reduced the amount of water that has to be treated by the city’s waste water treatment plant. Since Newmont’s own water treatment plant went online more than a month ago, the city’s facility has gone from treating roughly 300,000 gallons per day down to just 20,000, Kiser said.

“This is huge for us,” Kiser said. “It’s basically allowing our plant to operate within its original parameters.”

Bill Lile, director of reclamation and closure for Newmont Mining, said the current facility will remain in place for six to 12 months until the next phase of the cleanup effort, involving a system of ponds for passive treatment of the mine water from Drew Tunnel.

“We hope to be through the permitting process and ready to move by the next construction season,” Lile said.

To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, email or call 530-477-4230.

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