WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP BAN CYANIDE IN MINING
Petition to Ban Cyanide Mining
Pledge Campaign for Candidates
Pass a Group Resolution
Make a Contribution
Local Government Resolution
Sample Resolution for Local Governments
Factsheet on Cyanide in Wisconsin Mining
The Wolf Watershed Educational Project has launched the Wisconsin Campaign to Ban Cyanide in Mining, and invites all community groups and local governments
to join in the effort to protect our environment from the threat of a cyanide disaster. Spills that we have seen in other countries can and have occurred here in the U.S.
The Crandon mine plans to use up to 20 tons a month of sodium cyanide, which would be shipped in to the mine site on northern Wisconsin roads. No matter what processing method is used at the mine site, we cannot risk the release of even tiny amounts of cyanide into our waterways and fisheries.
Legislation will be introduced into the next session of the Wisconsin Legislature to prohibit the use of cyanide in mining–based on similar efforts in Montana, Colorado, and the Australian state of New South Wales. NOW is the time to begin to support this campaign, and make it a top issue in the Fall election !!! For more background information, see the factsheet below, or
1. PETITON to Ban Cyanide in Mining
Print off the PETITION to ban cyanide in mining at
and get as many signatures as you can from your group, friends, and family, and at events such as fairs, powwows, concerts, etc. Print off and distribute the factsheet at the end of this message. Send completed peitions to the the Wolf Watershed
Educational Project, c/o Midwest Treaty Network, 731 State St., Madison WI 53703.
2. Pledge Campaign for Candidates
Demand that your State Assembly and
Senate CANDIDATES (both incumbents and
challengers) pledge to support a prohibition on cyanide
in mining: “I hereby pledge to support and vote in favor of
legislation to prohibit the use of all cyanide in Wisconsin
mines and metallic ore processing facilities.”
3. Pass a GROUP RESOLUTION
in your environmental organization, rod & gun club,
union, church, fishing group, student group,
Hazmat team, etc. (and any other community
groups) for a cyanide ban in mining. **You can
also simply respond to this letter and ask
that your group be signe don to the Campaign.**
All groups that passed resolutions for the
1998 mining moratorium bill should sign on
to the new campaign as one way to potentially
slow or stop the Crandon mine and other
possible mines. Take the wording from the
Local Government Resolution below, and
please send copies to the
Wolf Watershed Educational Project at the address below.
4. Make a Contribution
Make a tax-deductible CONTRIBUTION to
“MTN/PC Foundation” and send it to:
Wolf Watershed Educational Project (WWEP),
c/o Midwest Treaty Network,
731 State St., Madison WI 53703.
5. Share Information
Help the Campaign GATHER DATA about cyanide in mining. Send the Campaign any information you have — newspaper clippings, emails, webpage links, organization contact information — about problems with cyanide in mining and groups in other countries and states that are working to ban cyanide in mining. Send information to Wisconsin Campaign to Ban Cyanide in Mining
at the address below.
6. Local Government Resolution
Have your local village, township, and
county governments pass the
following LOCAL GOVERNMENT
RESOLUTION supporting a
prohibition on the use of cyanide in
Wisconsin mines, and send a copy to
the WWEP. If you are a tribal member,
ask your representatives to introduce
a similar resolution in your tribal council.
ROLL CALL ___________________ Board
(County, Town, Village etc.), WISCONSIN
First Reading: Date
Second Reading: Date
RESOLUTION SUPPORTING A PROHIBITION ON
THE USE OF CYANIDE IN WISCONSIN MINES
WHEREAS mining companies are increasingly using cyanide to extract gold,
silver, copper, zinc, and other metals from metallic ore; and,
WHEREAS the proposed Crandon zinc-copper mine near the Wolf River would use as much as 18 to 20 tons of sodium cyanide each month during its
operation; and Wisconsin is known to contain other gold deposits that would likely
require cyanide for processing; and,
WHEREAS cyanide poses serious environmental risks–from transportation
on our roadways, from storage and use at the proposed Crandon mine site,
and from residuals disposed in waste dumps; and,
WHEREAS cyanide is highly toxic, with tiny traces fatal to human beings,
fish and wildlife, and acts as a powerful solvent that can release other
WHEREAS cyanide has been the cause of recent environmental disasters at
U.S. mines (in Colorado, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, California, South
Dakota, and South Carolina), and at many foreign mines (such as in Romania,
Guyana, Canada, Kyrgyzstan, and Papua New Guinea), resulting in massive fish kills and contaminated drinking water; and,
WHEREAS in 1998, Montana voters banned cyanide for mining, and a similar ban initiative is underway in Colorado; and,
WHEREAS Wisconsin must have the strongest mining laws in the nation, in
order to protect our abundance of clean water,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the (Town, Village, County, etc.) of
________________________________________ supports a prohibition on the
use of cyanide reagents in Wisconsin mines and metallic ore processing
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Wisconsin State Legislature is urged to pass legislation to prohibit the use of cyanide in Wisconsin mines and
metallic ore processing facilities.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent to the
State Representative and State Senator representing (County, Town, Village etc.), the DNR Secretary, the Governor and the Wisconsin (Counties,
STATE OF WISCONSIN
(County, Town, Village etc.)
I, _________________ Clerk of (County, Town, Village etc.), Wisconsin do
hereby certify that the above is a true and correct copy of the resolution passed by the (County, Town, Village etc.) Board of Supervisors on this
Name of Clerk, (County, Town, Village etc.) Clerk
F A C T S H E E T O N C Y A N I D E
I N W I S C O N S I N M I N I N G
**Please post and circulate**
DANGERS OF CYANIDE IN MINING:
Sodium cyanide is acutely toxic to any living thing. Incredibly small
amounts of cyanide can kill fish. For example, cyanide measured at
20 to 80 parts per billion can kill rainbow and brown trout.
Birds and mammals that drink water or feed on cyanide-poisoned
wildlife can be killed if they are exposed to cyanide at
40 to 200 parts per million–an amount also fatally toxic to humans.
Leftover cyanide at very small concentrations has harmed birds and
other wildlife that drank mine pond wastewater. Cyanide is a powerful
solvent that breaks down heavy metals–such as mercury,
cadmium, chromium, and lead–that end up as waste products that
need to be dumped. Cyanide can also break down and form complexes
with other chemicals or metals and remain as toxic. Mixes of cyanide
with other metals and chemicals can be just as toxic as cyanide itself,
but they are not routinely monitored or carefully regulated.
CYANIDE AT THE CRANDON MINE:
Sodium cyanide would be used as a chemical “reagent” or solvent to
dissolve out metals from the ore in the “flotation process,”
particularly gold and silver. There are significant amounts of gold and silver at Crandon; the DNR estimates as much as 1,100,000 ounces of gold,
and 63,000,000 ounces of silver. Northern Wisconsin also has several
other gold and silver deposits.
Rio Algom’s Nicolet Minerals Company (NMC) proposes to transport
up to 20 tons of cyanide per month to the Crandon mine site. Cyanide
and other toxics such as sulfuric acid pose environmental risks from
transportation and storage at the site and also from residuals in the
waste dump and in the waste back-filled into the abandoned mine shaft. DNR
consultant Andres Trevino reported that if NMC uses truckloads of
cyanide at the highest estimated rate, a one-month inventory would be 18-20
If the mine were to operate for 28 years, over 6,000 tons of cyanide
would be required. Trevino reported that most of the residual cyanide would
end up in the pyrite concentrate that is proposed to be back-filled into the
mine shaft, potentially in contact with groundwater. At least some residual cyanide would end up in the waste tailings dump.
Cyanide can be treated to become less toxic, but Trevino does not report
that NMC is proposing any active destruction of the toxic chemical. Instead
it appears that NMC simply expects any leftover cyanide to break down
naturally in the waste dump pond when exposed to sunlight. But colder
temperatures, such as in northern Wisconsin, can stop the breakdown of
CYANIDE DISASTERS AT MINES:
Cyanide spills from the Summitville gold mine contributed to
severe environmental problems on a 17-mile stretch of the Alamosa
River. It is now a federal Superfund site, with cleanup costing
Mines had 62 spills or leaks of cyanide in 1982-98. The
Zortman-Landusky cyanide heap leach gold mine had repeated
leaks and discharges, resulting in wildlife deaths and severe
contamination of streams and groundwater.
The Gold Quarry mine released about 245,000 gallons of cyanide-
laden waste into two local creeks. In 1989 and 1990, a series of
eight cyanide leaks occurred at the McCoy/Cove gold mine, releasing
almost 900 pounds of cyanide.
In 1998, 6-7 tons of cyanide-laced tailings spilled from
the Homestake Mine, killing fish in Whitewood Creek, Black Hills.
The Grouse Creek gold mine, operated by Hecla with “state-of-the-art”
technology in 1993-97, now faces the possible collapse of
its cyanide waste pond dam. The state proposes to relieve
the pressure by gradually releasing the cyanide into the Salmon River.
In 1995, over 860 million gallons of cyanide-laden tailings were
released into a major river when a dam collapsed at the Omai gold mine.
The Northparkes copper-gold mine in New South Wales
killed 2700 birds in 1995
A truck transporting solid cyanide to the Kumtor mine
plunged off a bridge in 1998, spilling 2 tons of cyanide into local
Papua New Guinea.
A helicopter crash in 2000 released cyanide bound for a gold mine.
A huge February 2000 spill at the Aural gold mine
destroyed much of the Tisza River ecosystem in Hungary and
Yugoslavia; thousands of dead fish floated into the Danube.
OUR WEAKENED MINING LAWS
State Statute 160.19(12) says that metallic mines are exempt from the
state Groundwater Protection Law. Statute 291.35 says that metallic
mining waste is not subject to the state’s stringent Hazardous Waste
Management Law, even if it contains cyanide. Mine waste is instead
regulated by DNR rules based on weaker standards for solid waste
disposal. Unlike state statutes, the DNR has the power to grant
variances and make changes to its own rules without legislative approval or public input.
Montana voters in 1998 banned the use of cyanide in mining, halting
new sulfide mine permits. An initiative may soon be on Colorado’s
ballot. Wisconsin is thus BEHIND these two pro-mining states in its
environmental laws. The Australian state of New South Wales is considering a similar ban.
A bill to ban cyanide in mining will be introduced in the next Wisconsin
legislative session; contact your legislators and legislative candidates
TODAY to support it! Take petitions (available on-line below)
to your family, friends, and public events. Have your community
group sign on to the Wisconsin Campaign to Ban Cyanide in Mining, and get
your local governments to pass a resolution supporting a cyanide ban in
FOR MORE DOCUMENTATION
Contact Dave Blouin at 608-233-8455,
PETITION TO BAN CYANIDE IN MINING
WISCONSIN CAMPAIGN TO
BAN CYANIDE IN MINING (CBCM)
Wolf Watershed Educational Project
c/o Midwest Treaty Network
731 State Street,
Madison WI 53703 USA
Hotline: (800) 445-8615
Tel/./Fax: (608) 246-2256