Abandoned mine

Title Info
Source Dan L. Perlman
Human impacts Mining; Water
Date June 06, 2000
Location Butte,Montana,USA,North America

Abandoned open pit copper mine, Butte, Montana. This is a small part of the Berkeley Pit, the first open pit mine in Butte. Mining in the pit began in 1955 and over the next few decades, the pit slowly swallowed neighborhood after neighborhood in the city. Eventually, the mine closed in 1982, at which point the pumps that had kept the pit free of water were turned off. The pit began to fill with water, which is actually a sulfuric acidic solution containing lots of heavy metals. The level was rising two feet (60 cm) per month until some diversions slowed the rise to half that rate. However, about 2020 the liquid will be high enough that it will begin moving back into the water table, polluting the ground water. Much of the city is part of the largest Superfund hazardous waste cleanup site in the United States, and major progress is being made in cleaning it up.