From The Durango Herald (Nicholas A. Johnson):
A $1.6 million settlement agreement with Sunnyside Gold Corp. was approved by the Colorado Natural Resources Trustees to resolve the company’s liability for damaged natural resources at the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund Site where the 2015 Gold King Mine blowout occurred.
Colorado Natural Resources Trustees include state Attorney General Phil Weiser, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources Jill Hunsaker Ryan and the Executive Director of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Dan Gibbs.
The settlement will allow trustees to fund restoration projects in natural areas damaged by the spill and other releases of hazardous substances within the Superfund site.
Trustees will now begin to consult with regional stakeholders, including local governments and nonprofit groups, solicit proposals and allocate the money for environmental restoration and property acquisition projects.
“The settlement announced today is a step in the right direction to address the damage suffered in Southwest Colorado and the Four Corners region in the wake of the Gold King Mine disaster and other degradation of our natural resources,” Weiser said in a news release. “The trustees look forward to partnering with the local community on how to invest the funds.”
The work reflects the mandate of the trustees to take necessary actions to address when Colorado’s natural resources are injured or destroyed.
In an email to The Durango Herald, Gina Meyers, director of reclamation operations for Sunnyside Gold Corp., said the settlement agreement was reached as a matter of practicality, with no admission of liability or wrongdoing.
The settlement agreement resolves the trustees’ claims that Sunnyside caused or contributed to releases of acidic, metals-laden mine wastewater into the Upper Animas River watershed. Sunnyside operated the Sunnyside Mine from 1986 until 1991…
The settlement agreement will be filed with the U.S. District Court in Denver. Once filed with the court, the agreement will go through a 30-day public comment process.
After the close of the comment period, Sunnyside Gold Corp. and the trustees will present all comments received to the court. The court will ultimately decide whether to approve the settlement.
“The trustees look forward to infusing funds into the local economy through community endorsed reclamation projects that improve watersheds and address legacy mining impacts,” Gibbs said in a news release.