Arizona mining company ordered to pay $2.3M for arsenic leak

PHOENIX (AP) — A judge has ordered the owner of a north-central Arizona mine to pay nearly $2.4 million restitution for an arsenic leak, state prosecutors said Tuesday.

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality officials said Hillside Mine near Bagdad was the source of an ongoing illegal discharge of arsenic-contaminated water into Yavapai County’s Boulder Creek that was first investigated in 2013.

They said the leak into the creek was at a rate of 5 gallons per minute or about 2.6 million gallons yearly.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office said the mine’s owner signed three compliance by consent orders with ADEQ between 2014 and 2015 to come up with a plan to stop the discharge and to apply for the appropriate environmental permits.

But authorities said no plan was ever submitted, the case was then submitted for prosecution and the company was indicted in August 2017.

State prosecutors said the Hillside Mine’s owner was convicted of three felony violations of the Arizona Pollution Discharge Elimination System in 2018 and ordered to pay fines and surcharges totaling over $2.7 million.

They said the latest restitution order brings the total financial sanctions against the lead and copper mining company to more than $5 million.