Fact and Fiction

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Fact and Fiction

During the course of planning for the Holden Mine Cleanup Project, we’ve heard a variety of concerns about the Project, many of which are simply not based in fact. Here are a number of these concerns, followed by the facts about each one. We’ll continue to add to this list as the Project progresses.


Fiction: You’re cleaning up the Holden Mine so you can go in and mine again.

Fact: No. This is a federally mandated mine cleanup. Rio Tinto has no interest in mining the area – and we couldn’t even if we wanted to. Holden Village owns the mining claims and the Forest Service has removed the surrounding area from any mineral exploration.

Fiction: You’re going to reprocess the tailings on site.

Fact:  No. Again, this is a federally mandated mine cleanup, not a for-profit business venture. It is not economically viable or environmentally sound for Rio Tinto to reprocess the tailings.

Fiction: Rio Tinto will be hauling tailings and other hazardous materials up and down Lake Chelan.

Fact:  We will be transporting equipment and supplies, including vehicle fuel and explosives for blasting rock. These will be managed according to state and federal regulations, as is required for anyone else transporting similar materials on the lake.

The historic mining waste will be managed on-site. No tailings or waste rock will be transported off the mine site. Federal requirements call for a one-time removal of a very small quantity – half a barge load or less – of copper concentrate from Holden. This will be transported to a certified facility.

Fiction: Taxpayer dollars are paying for the cleanup and Rio Tinto is making money.

Fact: No taxpayer dollars are being used for the cleanup. Rio Tinto is paying the entire cost of this federally mandated $100+ million remediation and investing significant resources to clean up the mine site and prevent further environmental degradation. Rio Tinto is a for-profit company; but the cleanup is not a for-profit venture. In fact, Rio Tinto is even required to reimburse state and federal agencies’ costs for overseeing the cleanup.

Fiction: The cleanup will make the water quality in Railroad Creek even worse, not better.

Fact: We have to be very careful not to stir up sediment during the relocation of portions of Railroad Creek near Holden Village. In fact, the agencies have very strict requirements to regulate the amount of sediment in the Creek during the cleanup. As far was water quality, it will only get better. Right now, Railroad Creek actually meets human drinking water standards just below Holden Village. We will clean it up to ensure that it also meets the stricter standards for sensitive aquatic life in the Creek.

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