Through its subsidiary, Oro East presently holds title to certain leach pits (Waste Management Units or WMUs) and stockpiles of gold tailings at the historic Carson Hill mine site in Calaveras, California, in the heart of the Mother Lode region. Presently the Carson Hill Project is in its first stage of gold extraction and refinery processing.
On September 24, 2014, the California Environmental Protection Agency
through the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, determined that the pilot test process implemented by Oro East at Carson Hill successfully renders the mining waste in the WMUs “Class C” waste. Previously before Oro East acquired the WMUs, the waste there was classified as “Class B.” The positive impact on the environment and sustainability of mining operations in the area is tremendous, given the re-classification approval.
The classification system is based on the California Mining Waste Regulations. Mining waste in California falls into one of three
_GROUP A_: This is considered toxic and presents the highest environmental threat to water quality.
_GROUP B_: This is considered semi-toxic and presents a significant environmental threat to water quality.
_GROUP C_: This is considered non-toxic and presents insignificant to no threat to water quality.
Why is this important? Group A and Group B classified waste can cause acid rain and adversely affect the pH level in ground water. Previously, the Carson Hill mining waste in the WMUs were classified as Group B mining waste. However, after Oro East’s innovative refinery system, proven through its pilot testing program, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CA EPA), through the Regional Water Board, determined that the waste can now be classified as Class C.
As Class B mining waste, Oro East would be governed by Chapter 11, Division 4.5, Title 22, on Hazardous Waste Generator Requirements. This introduces a host of regulations and close monitoring by the CA EPA, requiring high cost liners, containment systems, certified proposals and strategic containment plans, and heavy government oversight. Specifically, how Class B mining waste is discharged will be closely monitored by the government and requires agency approval before any plan or discharge can take effect.
However, Class C mining waste has no such applicable regulations. So long as mining waste is considered Class C, there are no compliance regulations in effect and Class C mining waste can be discharged at will because any form of discharge of Class C mining waste is automatically considered in compliance with all applicable water quality control plans.
_Information Sources_: Memorandum from the California Water Boards, “Review Draft Tailings Report for Mining Waste Reclassification Project, Carson Hill Rock Products, Calaveras County” (24 September 2014) (approving the re-classification of mining waste in the WMUs from Class C to Class B); Report Submitted by Patrick Sullivan, Ph.D., “Draft Tailings Report for CHRP Mining Waste Reclassification Project” (15 August 2014); Jon B. Marshak, D. Env., Staff Environmental Scientist for the California Environmental Protection Agency (14 April 1998; updated 14 May 2002).