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Google Earth shows reclamation at Nickel Mountain Mine

New Google Earth imagery shows mine reclamation (or lack thereof) at the Nickel Mountain Mine near Riddle. Is this what’s in store for Rough and Ready Creek with the new proposed RNR nickel mine and ore processing facility? With higher resolution imagery you can explore in detail Oregon’s own version of mountain top removal mining and what appears to constitute mine reclamation in the state.[1]

New Google Earth imagery provides a higher resolution view of the Nickel Mountain Mine near Riddle, Oregon approximately 2 decades after it closed, showing what is considered mine reclamation in Oregon.

Simply go to Google Earth [2] and do a search for “Nickel Mountain Mine, Riddle, Oregon.” The imagery is so clear you can see the boulders that have rolled down the steep terraces and pits left in the wake of about 40 years of mining.[3] This is about 20 years after the mine was played out and Glenbrook began importing nickel laterite from New Caledonia. Google Earth tells the story of the devastation of mining without help from us.

New 2012 Google Earth imagery shows the details of the Nickel Mountain Mine after mining was discontinued around 1993.

Then move to the south for a view of the former site of Glenbrook Nickel’s smelter. The nickel processing facility was permanently shut down in 1998. You can’t miss it on Google Earth. The smelter buildings were taken down for scrap, but most of the huge slag stockpiles and holding ponds remain. We believe it’s now owned by Green Diamond Sand.

New Google Earth imagery shows in detail the expanse of what remains of the former Glenbrook Nickel site near Riddle, Oregon.

In 1997, Glenbrook Nickel was the third largest toxic polluter in Oregon according to the Environmental Policy Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory.

The proposed ore processing facility at the Rough and Ready Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) appears to be a smaller facility than Glenbrook but these images provide an insight into the long term impacts of nickel mining and processing. The Bureau of Land Management’s mineral report for the Rough and Ready Creek (Nicore Claim Group) also expressed concern that the slag produced by the type of processing proposed at Rough and Ready Creek could be classed as a toxic material. This would require the mine waste to be permanently stored on site at the ACEC.

New Google Earth imagery of holding ponds at the old Glenbrook Nickel site.

If someone has the technological know-how, it would be interesting to know the size of the Glenbrook site. Also we can find very little information about reclamation  and testing of the strange colored substance in the holding ponds. If someone has information, let us know.


[1] Mountain top removal mining is a term usually reserved for the destructive (too mild a description) mining method to access coal reserves. It consists of blowing the tops off of mountains and filling the valleys below with the mine waste. To read more about mountain top removal mining go to Mountain Justice or I Love Moutains. In the State of Oregon, the Department of Geology and Mineral Industry determines reclamation on federal lands: Division 30 — ORS 516.090(2)(a), 517.740 & 517.840(1)(d)

[2] This link takes you to the free download of Google Earth if you don’t already have it.

[3] According to this 2004 source you can’t hardly tell there was a mine on Nickel Mountain:

… Schweizer, a metallurgic engineer who worked for [Tech] Cominco for 21 years before forming his company, said the reclamation job Cominco did on the mountain is one of the best he’s seen. “You can’t hardly tell there was a mine up there,” he said. The former mine site, closer to the top of Nickel Mountain, was sold by Cominco to Barnes & Associates, a Roseburg forest management company (emphasis added).

However, the Google Earth images are much later than 2004, so it’s hard to give much credibility to this assessment when the evidence shows otherwise.

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