Proposed gravel mine north of Silverthorne nears end of state permitting process
More than 50 community members joined in on the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety’s public meeting regarding the Peak Ranch Resource Project, a gravel mine about 7 miles north of Silverthorne that has been proposed by Peak Materials.
On the call, division representatives explained the state’s role in the process, saying the project has to pass through the state before it reaches Summit County officials, while participants, mainly property owners in the area, asked questions about the permitting process in preparation for the formal Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board hearing.
The proposed project would be on the 75-acre Hillyard property, which Peak Materials bought in 2018. The plan is to mine the property for gravel, transport materials to the company’s Maryland Creek Ranch facility — about 11 miles south of the mining site — and then convert the property to open space. The project, including mining and reclamation, is expected to take 10 to 15 years.
Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety Program Director Russ Means explained that the division will issue its decision and recommendations regarding Peak Materials’ permit application for the project to the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board later in the month. The review period for the state application is scheduled to close March 16. Means noted that the division is part of the regulatory process for any mine to activate in the state.
“(Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety) does not decide if a mine should be at a location,” Means said. “Rather, if allowed, (determines) what is going to be required to ensure that it is done safely and we have returned land back to a beneficial use.”
Participant Pam Moret asked how often the state denies mining permits, sharing concerns that the process was simply a “rubber stamp.” Means said permits have been denied in recent history and that whether a permit is approved is up to the board’s discretion.
Eric Scott, the environmental protection specialist lead on the review of Peak Materials’ application, explained that the current review period is only for Phase I of the project, which is surface-level mining, meaning no groundwater will be exposed.
If plans for Phase II are approved, Scott said “dredge mining” or “wet mining” would be allowed. Raw material would be staged to drain on-site and then loaded into trucks to be transported off-site for processing. Two ponds would be created as a result and as part of the land reclamation process. If Phase II is not approved, Peak Materials will have to finish the project at Phase I, and reclamation would consist of surface grading and revegetation.
Scott said the state has received about 160 objection letters for the project as well as comments on the application from several agencies, including History Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Division of Water Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Summit County Planning Department.
“All of these comment letters were read, reviewed by the division, and honestly, many of the jurisdictional concerns that were raised by objecting parties are also concerns of the division, and we will address those through the adequacy review process,” Scott said.
Jeff Fugate, who serves as counsel to the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, said the formal hearing process with the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board begins April 21. However, he said other permits will have to be secured for the project to move forward as planned, including two permits from Summit County: one to mine materials on the 75-acre property and one to import the materials to the company’s Maryland Creek Ranch facility. A permit from the Colorado Division of Water Resources also would have to be secured in order to expose groundwater in Phase II.
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