Further cleanup needed at Lead Queen Mine in Patagonia Mountains - Tucson News Now

Further cleanup needed at Lead Queen Mine in Patagonia Mountains

Colored water (Source: The Forest Service - Coronado National Forest) Colored water (Source: The Forest Service - Coronado National Forest)
Clean up work. (Source: The Forest Service - Coronado National Forest) Clean up work. (Source: The Forest Service - Coronado National Forest)
Wire gabion baskets. (Source: The Forest Service - Coronado National Forest ) Wire gabion baskets. (Source: The Forest Service - Coronado National Forest )
Entrances sealed off with rock. (Source: The Forest Service - Coronado National Forest ) Entrances sealed off with rock. (Source: The Forest Service - Coronado National Forest )
A bat friendly gate closes off one entrance to the mine. (Source: The Forest Service - Coronado National Forest ) A bat friendly gate closes off one entrance to the mine. (Source: The Forest Service - Coronado National Forest )
PATAGONIA, AZ (TucsonNewsNow) -

An environmental cleanup, conducted in Feb. 2016 at the Lead Queen Mine in the Sierra Vista Ranger District, will be getting an upgrade, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service.

The initial cleanup was due to an unusually wet monsoon in 2014 that contributed to "colored runoff in some drainages in the Patagonia Mountains," the release said. Water that was tinted white, yellow, orange and red was flowing from the Lead Queen Mine adit, (a horizontal passage leading into a mine for the purposes of access or drainage.) Officials said these colors indicated the release and oxidation of mineralized waters and sediment. 

The initial February cleanup was to reduce or eliminate the downstream movement of waste rock containing elevated concentrations of arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals, and to prevent acid mine drainage from entering Harshaw Creek, the release said. 

Adits and shafts were closed off with polyurethane foam or bat-friendly metal gates, waste rock was placed in a consolidation cell and capped, wire gabion baskets were installed downstream of the main adit, and burlap bags filled with zeolite were placed inside the baskets to help remove the heavy metals and to trap sediment particles.  

All of these precautions were damaged when a particularly strong monsoon storm hit the area on or about Aug. 9, according to the release.  

A crew consisting of forest engineering, minerals and geology staff and scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey inspected and evaluated the damage, according to the release, and determined that a "more suitable and robust system" was needed to meet expected project goals.  

Coronado National Forest staff are assembling a team of USGS scientists and Forest Service professionals who have handled cases like this before to help design and implement a new cleanup plan for the mine.

Further details will be released as they become available. 

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