1982-2013: 31 years since pumps stopped

Over 31 years ago economic factors led the Atlantic-Richfield Corporation, or ARCO, now a subsidiary of British Petroleum, to cease mining operations at the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana. Underground mining had come to an end seven years earlier, but the underground pumps had continued to operate, pumping groundwater out from the mines and the Berkeley Pit. The 1982 suspension […]

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North of the Berkeley Pit stands one of the largest earthen dams in the United States. The dam, constructed from waste rock mined out of the Berkeley Pit and, in more recent years, the Continental Pit, stands over 650 feet (200 meters) tall. It holds back the Yankee Doodle tailings impoundment, also known as the Yankee Doodle Tailings Pond. As […]

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When ARCO suspended underground pumping operations in 1982, groundwater levels on the Butte Hill began to rise. Nineteen months later the water level in the underground workings and surrounding bedrock reached the bottom of the Pit, allowing bedrock groundwater to start filling the Pit void. Prior to that time alluvial groundwater seeped into the Pit from the east and south […]

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Presently there is no evidence that water is moving from the Berkeley Pit to the Continental Pit or that there is any underground connection between the two pits. Right now, the mining level in the Continental Pit is below the water level in the Berkeley Pit. In the future, by the end of the mine life, the bottom of the […]

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Current sampling indicates that the water quality is significantly different in the two pits. The pH of the water in the Continental Pit is about 6.5-7.0, which is much more neutral than the water in the Berkeley Pit, which has a pH of about 2.5. Also, the levels of arsenic, copper and cadmium are many times less in the Continental […]

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