Growing concerns over the medium and long term impacts of open-pit gold mining on Nevada’s water were validated earlier this month when Dr. Tom Myers presented his third report on the effects of mine dewatering and pit lake formation on Humboldt River flows. PLAN traveled to Elko and Lovelock to share the findings of the most recent study with residents and impacted farmers. Read local news report from the meetings in the Elko Daily Free Press and Lovelock Review-Miner.

Read Dr. Myers’ full report and presentation on what happens to ground water after mining ends and the pit lake fills with water, or check out our summary below.

Open-pit gold mining impacts our water –
even after production, profits and jobs are gone

While the mine is in operation:

FACT: Since 1991, 3.9 million acre feet of water was pumped from open pits in the Humboldt River Basin. One acre foot, or 326,000 gallons, is enough water for a family of four for one year. That means mines have pumped enough water to support 3.9 million Nevada families.

Immediately after mining ends:

FACT: Since 2007, the water being wasted to fill up the Lone Tree pit could have supplied nearly 9,000 families for 20 years (176,00 af between 2007 – 2016).

For the foreseeable future:

FACT: In 18 years, we will have lost 180,000 acre feet of water to evaporation – the same amount Las Vegas wants to pump from Northern Nevada.

Now consider the medium to long-term impact of dozens of open pit mines scattered across the state. Is open-pit gold mining the most sustainable and responsible use of our precious water?

Recommendations to protect our future: