Ross-Adams Mine Site, Tongass National Forest, Alaska

Background

The Ross-Adams Mine (Site) is a former uranium mine located in the Tongass National Forest near the southern end of Prince of Wales (POW) Island, Alaska. The Ross-Adams ore was mined by open pit and then later by underground operations intermittently between 1957 and 1971 by several different mining companies. In April 2009, Newmont USA Limited and Dawn Mining Company LLC voluntarily entered into an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent (ASAOC) with the USDA Forest Service to perform an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) for the Site. The ASAOC is a legally binding agreement that prescribes completion of the following major tasks and deliverables for the Site:

The Site and surrounding area are under the jurisdiction and custody of the Forest Service, which is the lead agency for the cleanup process, working in conjunction with Newmont and Dawn, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Organized Village of Kasaan (OVK), Hydaburg Cooperative Association, and other stakeholders. The cleanup process is being managed by the Forest Service as a Non-Time Critical Removal Action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA). The process requires an EE/CA with a 30 day public comment period. The EE/CA defines and evaluates the range of removal action (cleanup) alternatives to mitigate potential risk from historic mining activities by addressing the mine rock materials, adjacent mine‐affected areas, and affected media defined by site characterization. Human health and ecological risk assessments have been conducted as part of the EE/CA to evaluate existing risks to human health and the environment associated with historic mining operations and to assess the effectiveness of cleanup alternatives. From alternatives evaluated in the EE/CA, the Forest Service will select the removal action for the Site, in collaboration with the State of Alaska and the EPA, following public review and comment.

Site Description & Features

The Site is approximately 38 air miles southwest of Ketchikan, Alaska. The nearest towns are Metlakatla, 28 miles to the northeast across Clarence Strait and Hydaburg, 33 miles to the northwest on the western side of POW Island. The Site is within the semi-remote recreational area of the Tongass National Forest and only accessible by float plane or boat, or overland by hiking through many miles of trail-less rugged terrain. There are no established Forest Service roads or hiking trails connecting the Site to other POW communities or roads. The Ross-Adams Mine is located on the southeastern slopes of Bokan Mountain within the Kendrick Creek watershed. The Ross-Adams ore deposit outcropped on the southeastern flank of Bokan Mountain. The mine was initially developed by open-pit mining and later by underground operations from three portals. The mine has three surface expressions, named after their approximate elevations: the “900-Foot Level”; the “700-Foot Level”; and the “300-Foot Level”. In the late 1950s, the ore deposit was mined from an Open Pit at the 900-Foot Level. After the surficial deposit was mined, ore was mined in the early 1960s by driving an approximately 500-foot long tunnel at the 700-Foot Level to intersect the ore deposit, with a raise connecting it to the Open Pit. An additional phase of underground mining occurred in 1971 by driving the 300-Foot Level adit tunnel. Mine rock, including rock developed in driving the 700-Foot Level and 300-Foot Level tunnels, was placed near the portals at all levels. Ore produced from all levels was conveyed via haul roads to ore staging areas and barge loading docks on the north shore of the West Arm of Kendrick Bay. All ore was shipped off-site for processing; therefore, no milling operations were conducted at the Site that would have generated tailing or other process materials. The Bokan Mountain Intrusive Complex, in which the Ross-Adams deposit is located, is comprised of rare rock types and is unique in southeast Alaska. Emplacement of the Bokan Intrusive Complex included uranium, thorium and rare earth element mineralization. Mineral exploration continues in the Bokan Mountain region for deposits of rare earth elements under Forest Service permits. Principal surface features associated with former mine operations include:

Community Engagement Opportunities

Community, tribal, and stakeholder engagement is critical to the success of the project. The community engagement activities are designed to inform the public of the environmental conditions at the Site, involve the public in the decision-making process that will affect them, involve the public in the actions being considered for cleanup of the Site, and inform the public of the progress being made toward final cleanup and closure of the Site. Various public meetings have been held updating tribes, stakeholders and other interested public on the status of the project. A public presentation was given at the Prince of Wales Island Mining Symposium in Craig, Alaska in May 2009, to provide information about the Site and ongoing data collection efforts for the ESI. A meeting to update the community was held in Hydaburg, Alaska in September 2009. A public open house event was held in Hydaburg in December 2010 to present the findings from the SCR and status of the project. The status of the Draft EE/CA was provided by the Forest Service on April 16, 2011. An update presentation was included at the Prince of Wales Island-Wide Mining Symposium in Craig on May 8-10, 2012 and again on April 24-25, 2014. Public notice of the 30 day public review period for the EE/CA commences when the EE/CA becomes available to the public. A public open-house was held at the Klawock School April 28, 2015 from 7:00-9:00 PM to present the EE/CA and the risk assessments as prelude to a 30 day public review and comment period commencing May 1, 2015. A presentation was also given at the Prince of Wales Island-Wide Mining Symposium, sponsored by the Organized Village of Kasaan, in Klawock on April 29, 2015.

Contacts

Matthew York
Alaska On-Scene Coordinator
Forest Service
Alaska Region 10 Engineering
709 West 9th Street, Room 501E
Juneau, AK 99801
p: 907-586-9379
c: 907-209-3512
matthewyork@fs.fed.us

Community Updates

A public open-house was held at the Klawock School April 28, 2015 from 7:00-9:00 PM to present the EE/CA and the risk assessments as prelude to a 30 day public review and comment period commencing May 1, 2015. A presentation was also given at the Prince of Wales Island-Wide Mining Symposium, sponsored by the Organized Village of Kasaan, in Klawock on April 29, 2015. The following materials were presented at the public open-house:

Administrative Record - Key Site Documents

Last Updated: April 29, 2015