Acid mine drainage found at site near BWCAW

Spruce Road acid mine drainage

Spruce Road acid mine drainage

The Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness has discovered that a sulfide mining exploration site just two miles from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is creating acid mine drainage 36 years after a mining company dug up ore as part of exploration efforts. The research was the focus of a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Oct 2.

Drainage from the site contains copper, arsenic and other metals at levels which are harmful to aquatic life and human health. It is located on the Spruce Road, approximately 15 miles southeast of Ely and about two miles from the South Kawishiwi River and Little Gabbro Lake BWCAW entry points. (See interactive map.)

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) cannot demonstrate that it has monitored the site whatsoever since 1976 and, when asked about the lab results, the MPCA informed the Friends that the agency is unlikely to take any action to further analyze the drainage or reclaim the site to prevent the toxic pollution from continuing.

“The lab results fly in the face of what mining companies and our state agencies have been telling the public,” says Betsy Daub, Policy Director for the Friends. “The fact is that Minnesota’s sulfide ore is capable of producing toxic acid mine drainage, and the Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources have not addressed it for over 30 years.”

Continue reading »