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In September 2019, 110 seventh-grade students and community members from Lake Chelan School District visited the Holden Mine Cleanup site and toured the water treatment plant. The week-long visit was hosted by the School District, United States Forest Service and Holden Village and included four educational sessions facilitated by Rio Tinto staff covering topics including health and safety, emergency response and water treatment processes and plant systems. 








Holden Mine Cleanup Project Receives Environmental Excellence Award

 SPOKANE, Wash. – The American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA) has awarded its 2015 Environmental Excellence Award to Rio Tinto for cleaning up the historic Holden Mine site in Washington State. AEMA presented the award to Rio Tinto’s Legacy Management Group at its recent annual meeting in Spokane, Washington.

AEMA recognized Rio Tinto for its state-of-the-art cleanup of the Holden Mine site, as well as its commitment to the environment and local communities:

 “Rio Tinto’s care to ensure that this remote and logistically challenging legacy site is made safe, that all problem areas are addressed, and that there is a substantial socioeconomic future for the community, together with a minimized aftercare burden, demonstrated the company’s commitment to environmental excellence.”

The Holden Mine remediation project is a federally mandated cleanup located in a remote spot in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest above Lake Chelan in north-central Washington State. The project sits next to Holden Village, a spiritual retreat center than has operated on the site for more than 50 years. Rio Tinto never owned or operated the Holden Mine but, through a series of acquisitions, agreed to pay for and manage the cleanup.

 “Rio Tinto’s goal is to complete the remediation of past environmental problems at the old Holden Mine site safely, cost-effectively, and in a way that creates a sustainable socioeconomic future for Holden Village and other nearby communities,” said Holden Mine Cleanup Project Manager Dave Cline. “With the construction of a water treatment plant at the site and ongoing environmental monitoring, Rio Tinto is committed to the project for the long term. We are honored to receive this award and appreciate AEMA’s recognition of our efforts.”

 AEMA praised the company for working closely with the residents of neighboring Holden Village during the mine cleanup project.

 The AEMA Environmental Excellence Award is given to a company or operation that exemplifies the organization’s Statement of Environmental Principles (www.miningamerica.org/about/statement-of-environmental-principles/). 

Cleaning Up a Legacy Mine Site

The Holden Mine Cleanup Project is a $200+ million effort to remediate past environmental problems at the mine. The mine has been closed since the late 1950s and the cleanup is necessary to prevent future water and soil contamination. Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining groups, is managing and paying for the cleanup, which is expected to take about five years.

The project is located in a remote spot on Lake Chelan in north-central Washington State. Rio Tinto (and predecessor companies) has been working with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Forest Service and other federal and state agencies for several years to develop a plan for cleaning up historic mine waste and dismantling old mining facilities. Federal agencies issued their Record of Decision on the cleanup strategy in January 2012, giving the green light for remediation work to begin.

Because the project is snowbound during winter months, the cleanup work is dependent on weather conditions. The work is expected to take place from May through October each year. It is divided into two phases. The first phase will be completed in 2015 and be followed by several years of water-monitoring. All interested parties will then determine the necessity of a second phase.
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