U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
|Salmon Field Office|
Leadville Mill AML Project
The Leadville Mill Tailings project is located three miles east of Leadore, Idaho. This area lies at over 10,000 feet elevation on the southwestern flank of the Beaverhead Mountains of the Bitterroot Range and is adjacent to Canyon Creek, which flows into the Lemhi River.
The Leadville Mill was constructed sometime between 1905 and 1908. Mineral production increased in 1911 due to the construction of the Gilmore and Pittsburgh Railroad line into the area. The Leadville area mines operated sporadically for the next 20 years, but by the early 1930s the mines were idle. Total recorded production from the Leadville area mines was 26,868 tons of ore which yielded 44 ounces of gold; 203,166 ounces of silver; 1,331 pounds of copper; 6,065,888 pounds of lead; and 100 pounds of zinc.
Potential impacts to public health and safety existed due to the exposed tailings that were being used by off-highway-vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts attracted to the area because of the fine sandy character of the tailings. Other potential impacts to public health and safety included six open-mine workings found on the site.
The primary water quality issue was the potential for Canyon Creek to be contaminated by the Leadville Mill tailings (which are high in lead, zinc, and occasionally arsenic) during a flood. Past floods between 1907 and 2000 have carried an unknown amount of tailings into the creek. Future flooding had the potential to threatened salmon and bull trout populations.
During 2004, mine tailings were removed from the floodplain, allowing Canyon Creek access to its historic floodplain. Mines were closed and fitted with bat gates to maintain bat habitat while prohibiting most other wildlife and the public entry, thus protecting them from the dangerous mines. Revegetation seedings reclaimed the mine tailings and repository areas with a healthy cover of perennial grasses and forbs.
For additional information regarding this project, contact the area specialist or call the BLM Salmon Field Office at (208) 756-5400.
Salmon Field Office | 1206 South Challis Street | Salmon, ID 83467