The idea didn’t gain acceptance when Toronto proposed using an abandoned open pit in northern Ontario for a municipal landfill. Instead, Canada’s largest city contracted to have its waste hauled to Michigan. A proposal similar to the one originally made by Toronto is moving forward, however, near Fallon, Nevada. This one has nothing to do with the northern city.
PACIFIC RIM MINING (49%) of Vancouver and RIO TINTO subsidiary KENNECOTT MINERALS (51% and operator) exhausted reserves at the Denton-Rawhide heap leach gold mine in 2002. Two years later, the partners struck a deal with NEVADA RESOURCES RECOVERY GROUP (NRRG) of Reno which wanted to use the pits as a landfill. The deal was subject to several conditions and allows Pacific Rim and Kennecott to continue to produce gold through residual leaching of the pads or restart mining on adjacent land, if warranted.
Sounds like a good deal for both sides. But closing has taken longer than anticipated. The Nevada Bureau of Waste Management has issued the necessary permit. NRRG has agreed to purchase the mined out pits. Pacific Rim and Kennecott will receive payment for the land in the form of tipping fees over the life of the landfill. If the landfill has a 40-year life, it may put US$104 million in Pacific Rim’s treasury.
I hope the plan turns out to be eco-friendly. The Nevada desert has far less moisture than northern Ontario; that makes a difference to potential runoff and groundwater contamination. Or maybe the people of Nevada are realistic about their municipal wastes, treating them as something to be dealt with rather than shipped out of sight, out of mind.