The Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfields site is located approximately 3 miles south of McCormick, South
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Carolina between US 378 and US 221 on the northern side of Road 30 in McCormick County, South
Carolina. The mine site is relatively remote; there are no buildings, homes, or commercial buildings
within 0.5 miles of the boundary. The site actively mined gold from 1991 to 1995. From 1995 until
Nevada Goldfields filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 1999, the reclamation of the site was being
addressed by Nevada Goldfields. On July 7, 1999 Nevada Goldfields handed the facility’s keys to
SCDHEC and abandoned the site.
The site is located along a topographic high ridge area forming the headwaters of an unnamed tributary to Hawes Creek. The topography of the area consists of rolling hills with ridgelines at an elevation of about 500 feet. Within the site, the ridgeline comprising the site has a high point of about 510 feet and an average elevation of approximately 480 feet.
The permitted mine site totals 795.2 acres. Of this total, 659.7 acres are designated as buffer area
(areas not disturbed beyond the pre-mine natural state); therefore the maximum disturbance area is
The facility used a cyanide solution in a heap leach process to extract gold from ore. There are 7 processing ponds and one sediment pond onsite. Three large, multi-acre waste rock piles exist in varying condition. Each waste rock pile has the potential for producing acid. Storm water run on and runoff are not controlled at the site. The Main Pit ("Acid Pit") from the mining operations remains. The 10 acre Acid Pit contains approximately 60 million gallons of water with an average pH of 2 ~ 2.2 and a high dissolved metal content. Seeps from the Acid Pit containing acidic water with high dissolved metal content are being released to the northern unnamed tributaries of Hawes Creek which borders the pit at a rate of approximately 5 gpm.
As per a referral by the State of South Carolina, the EPA Region 4 Removal Program conducted a Removal Site Evaluation (RSE) according to the National Contingency Plan (NCP). During the RSE of March 2007, the OSC conducted an emergency response whose scope included the demolition of a furnace building and onsite neutralization of over 2000 lbs of varying strength acids and bases. As of 9/19/07, the Agency has approved an Action Memorandum to conduct a removal action. The scope of the action commenced on 10/15/07 and includes a Bureau of Reclamation designed cap for the 250,000 CYS of acid producing waste rock adjacent to the Acid Pit as well as onsite Acid Pit neutralization and cyanide deactivation in one of the onsite process ponds.
The project is expected to take about 12 to 16 months to complete and is projected to cost approximately 4 million dollars. Details concerning this action can be found in both the documents section and Pollution Reports (POLREPS) which are updated on a periodic basis.