BLM considers Bartlett Mine waste removal project

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment on a proposal to move 2,500 tons of mine waste from Alder Gulch south of Virginia City.

The proposal calls for the removal of the waste to a nearby sorting sight for eventual transfer to Golden Sunlight Mine in Whitehall for processing, said Bob Gunderson, a BLM geologist in Dillon.

The waste will come from the Bartlett Mine, which is located above Alder Gulch, five miles south of Virginia City, Gunderson said. The proposal calls for the project to take 30 days, but it’s more likely to take about 20.

An unpatented claim holder, whose name wasn’t included with the press release asking for public comment, is submitting the proposal. Gunderson wasn’t sure if the claimholder’s name is public information and declined to provide it by press time.

Virginia City and Alder Gulch were made famous 150 years ago as miners from around the world flocked to the area to try and strike it rich. Today’s gold prices have on occasion made mining the old mine tailings a profitable prospect.

The mine waste at the old Bartlett Mine has never been analyzed for contaminants, but typically removing the material off of public land is a good thing, Gunderson said.

“We like projects like this, we get (the waste) removed and we don’t have to deal with it,” he said.

The BLM will take public comment on the proposal until March 23. Once comments are analyzed the agency will issue an environmental assessment and decision on the proposal, Gunderson said.

The project would require approximately 85 dump truck loads of material to come down Alder Gulch and through part of Virginia City, but there are no anticipated road improvements necessary.

However, the Virginia City town council has yet to discuss the proposal and any comments it would make, said Virginia City Public Works Director Roger Williams.

Depending on the time of year, a project like this could have a big impact on the town with dust, noise and road degradation, Williams said.

“It does have a pretty big effect on us,” he said.

Williams will bring it to the council’s attention at the next regular meeting March 1.

If people have concerns about the project, Gunderson would like them to be as detailed as possible in their comments.

Comments can be submitted to the BLM at MT_Dillon_FO@blm.gov with “Bartlett Waste Removal” in the subject line. For more information, contact Gunderson at 683-8000.

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