Cimarron Superfund site, Carrizozo, New Mexico: An update

Lynn A. Brandvold, New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, Socorro, NM


The Cimarron Mill in Carrizozo, New Mexico was operated by Southwest Minerals Company under the name of Cimarron Mining Company (CMC) as a cyanide mill for gold recovery from 1979 until 1982. In 1980 the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Division (NMEID), received a report of improper use and dumping of cyanide at the site. A certified notice of violations was sent to CMC in 1982 by NMEID for discharging into a non-permitted discharge pit. CMC filed for bankruptcy in 1983 so no action on the violations was taken by the state. A Site Inspection Follow-Up Report was done by NMEID in 1984; in 1988 the mill site was listed as a Superfund site by the USEPA. A feasibility study to determine the method of remediation was completed by USEPA contractors in June 1990 and a remediation method was chosen in September 1990. Clean-up by a USEPA-supervised contractor was expected to begin in the spring of 1991 and to be completed in 1992. However, the clean-up did not begin until late fall of 1991 and is not yet complete to USEPA standards, and probably never will be.

Keywords: Superfund site, cyanide mill, cyanide contamination