Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Proposal to re-open Kirkland tuff quarry to supply concrete additive stirs up local community

A plan to re-open the old Skull Valley tuff quarry near Kirkland in northern Arizona has galvanized the local community. [Right, AZGS geologist Brian Gootee provided these photos of the quarry area]   The Kirkland Mine Forum reports that 112 local residents showed up at a community meeting last Thursday with BLM and Yavapai County officials to discuss the quarry plans.   The Forum report on the meeting states:
The area of interest is an L-shaped island of BLM public land on which a kitty litter mine operated in the 1970’s and 80’s. That operation closed in 1985. The BLM Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement published in the 2000’s identified this area as open for mineral development. Mr Hawes explained that scattered isolated land parcels, such as this one, are not as important to protect, unless there is special habitat or cultural resources. This L shaped parcel was determined to not be important to keep in the public trust; thus it could be sold, traded, exchanged, and opened to mining.

The old kitty litter mine took coarse absorbent material; the leftovers are the same material, but much finer (“fines”). These “fines” exist in a large stockpile that looks like a sand dune. The Kirkland Mining Company has presented to the BLM an application and a Mining Plan of Operation to remove and sell the stockpile of “fines” for use in concrete. The application specifies between 42,000 and 48,000 tons of “fines” to be removed from a 2.6 acre area.

The BLM has not yet completed analysis of the application. No decision has been made, and no timeframe started, though it was noted that the mining company expects to start in about 2 months. This operation is small enough (less than 5 acres) to be eligible for a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) “Categorical Exclusion” ; however, the BLM, and specifically Field Manager Rem Hawes, can choose to deny the Categorical Exclusion, and instead order an Environmental Analysis before approving the plan. The Environmental Analysis would be performed by a team of BLM experts in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and include such considerations as air quality, water quantity and quality, soil, archeological resources, grazing, wildlife habitat, and community impact.
The report on the meeting concluded by saying that Rem Hawes, BLM Hassayampa Field Manager
said that as a result of this meeting he had decided to require an Environmental Analysis for the current application: “I am impressed with the turnout, and with amount and variety of input.”

The Kirkland Mining website is under construction.


  1. Anonymous10:50 AM

    For further information the concerned citizens of Skull Valley and those surrounding the area of the mine created a website: kirklandmineforum.org please check this site continually for updates on meetings and information as it is being gathered. We strive to maintain accuracy, so if you find something in error, please contact the webmaster.

  2. Anonymous1:25 PM

    This is exciting and great news! If you've taken Dr. Burt's Ore Deposits class at ASU you stopped here on the way to Bagdad!

  3. Right now nothing is "written in stone", pardon the pun, If you would like to keep this uniquely beautiful and diverse section on Arizona from being irreparably changed by open-pit mining please visit the website: kirklandmineforum.org
    Spread the word and let your opinion be known by local political representatives, the BLM, and the media.

    1. Anonymous7:07 AM

      They intend to remove an existing stockpile denise, I didn't read anything about mining continuing.

    2. Anonymous8:19 AM

      Actually, per the Yavapai County Board of Directors meeting yesterday (6/1) their intent is to open pit mine numerous parcels they have the mineral rights to, over a total of 320 acres of pristine land. Google erionite, a byproduct of mining this mineral. As a particulate in the air, it has the same properties as asbestos.

  4. Anonymous8:26 AM

    Article on the YC board meeting re Kirkland Mine proposal.