Phelps Dodge project aims to reduce mining impacts in Bisbee


BISBEE - Phelps Dodge is in the final stages of finishing a project to separate the flow of water that runs from the stockpile to the Old Bisbee watershed.

Phelps Dodge is continuing work on removing the mining impacts to Mule Gulch and is voluntarily working with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to bring it back into compliance with in-stream standards.
Phelps Dodge Site Manager Tom Weiskopf said the company is in the process of building an 1,800-foot wall to help the process. So far, only 200 feet of the wall has been completed.
"We have got quite a lot more to do," he said of building the wall.
On Wednesday, traffic was slowed due to the Phelps Dodge work on Highway 80 heading toward Old Bisbee.
Weiskopf said the traffic delays were not unexpected by the company.
"(Drivers can) expect periodic delays when they bring in the cement," he said.
The wall will keep the storm water that runs down Old Bisbee away from the ore body that has a lot of pyrite. If the water was to get in touch with the ore body, the result would be metal in the water, Weiskopf said.
The water will be transported to the bottom of the Lavender Pit, where most of it will evaporate over time, Weiskopf said.
"We are in the process of working with the ADEQ to demonstrate that the water in the pit meets the regulations," he said. "It's part of our ongoing strategy to evaluate the mining impacts to the water."
Phelps Dodge started this project in the Lowell District near the junior high school two years ago, which was followed by work from Bisbee Blue next to the Lavender Pit to Old Bisbee.
The final portion of work will be from the Lavender Pit to Lowell.
Weiskopf expects the project to take another year to complete.
Weiskopf previously said the main issue is that storm water is breaking down ore deposits that are highly mineralized with pyrite. He said the company is trying to mitigate it to keep metals out of the water that is flowing from the Mule Gulch.
REPORTER Michael Maresh can be reached at 515-4692.


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