British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Bluebell Mine : remediation of a historic mine site Donald, B. J.; Kuit, Walter J.; Sandstrom, N.


The Bluebell Mine was a lead, zinc and silver mine discovered circa 1820 that had been exploited by a number of owners until its final closure in 1972. It is located in the hamlet of Riondel, BC. Kootenay Lake surrounds the mine site on three sides. Cominco Ltd. acquired the surface and mineral rights in the 1930s and operated a mine and concentrator from 1952 to 1972. The mine was reclaimed to the standards of the day upon closure. In 1997, Cominco initiated a series of phased investigations to identify potential environmental and public safety issues at the site. The site contains waste rock dumps, process fines (residual tailings and concentrates) and deposits of Mine Water Discharge (MWD) fines that had been pumped to surface during mine operations. The process fines and MWD fines existed both on land and in Kootenay Lake, including the foreshore areas of Galena and Bluebell Bays. The site had surface and groundwater issues related to both Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) and neutral pH metal leaching (ML). In 2000, Cominco initiated a remedial program to substantially improve both the environmental and public safety aspects of the site. The Phase 1 program in 2000 focused on the remediation of the contaminated soils and ARD/ML issues in upland areas of the site. Phase 2 work initiated in the first half of 2001 focused on removal of potential ARD generating materials from the foreshore and near shore areas of Galena and Bluebell Bays. During the second half of 2001, the objectives are to address outstanding Phase 1 issues and potential hazards from near surface mine workings. A program to monitor and confirm the resulting improvements in the environmental quality of the soils, surface and groundwater at the site has been initiated.

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