Introduction Synopsis Purpose Milestones Participants Introduction The environmental and health issues surrounding the Molycorp mine in northern New Mexico are extremely varied and complex.
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Consequently, this web site is also relatively large and complex. Our goal, however, is to present these issues in a manner that is both comprehensive and easy to understand. Public understanding of the issues, despite their complexity, has proven to be essential in the progress made so far to hold Molycorp accountable. Molybdenum is a metal found in various oxidation states within minerals. The free element, which is a silvery metal with a gray cast, has the sixth-highest melting point of any element.
It readily forms hard, stable carbides in alloys, and for this reason most of world production of the element is in making many types of steel alloys, including high strength alloys and superalloys. The mine dates back to the ‘s. InMolycorp began open pit operations.
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Init returned to underground mining. The mine was permanently closed in The pit, and millions tons of acid-generating waste rock excavated from it, now scar more than a thousand acres of the landscape between Questa and the town of Red River. The pit and the waste rock dumps WRDs were left un-reclaimed when open pit operations ceased. These sites continue to release huge quantities of heavy metals and other minerals which are dissolved when the rock is exposed to rain and snow.
This acidic mine drainage percolates through the rock and infiltrates both surface and groundwater, thus contaminating drinking water wells in the area and overwhelming the ability of the Red River to maintain a viable ecosystem. The pipeline runs approximately 8 miles, crossing the Red River in several places.
It also crosses through or near private farming land and residential property on its way to the tailings ponds. This pipeline has ruptured over times, spilling its toxins into the river and onto farmland and residential property, resulting in the killing of aquatic plants and animals, damage to agriculture, and possible contamination of drinking water wells. Toxic tailings deposits, the result of pipeline breaks, remain throughout the Red River valley.
The pipeline eventually deposits waste slurry from the mine in the tailing ponds. Water from the tailings ponds percolate into the groundwater.