DENVER (AP) — A mining company has agreed to pay Colorado $1.6 million to resolve its liability for natural resource damage related to the 2015 Gold King Mine spill that fouled rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
The proposed consent decree with Sunnyside Gold Corp. follows Sunnyside settlements with New Mexico and the Navajo Nation earlier this year.
Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office said Monday that a Denver federal court will decide whether to approve the decree after a 30-day public comment period.
Sunnyside admits no fault in the agreement.
Sunnyside operated a mine next to Gold King near Silverton that closed in 1991. A federal investigation found that bulkheads to plug that mine led to a buildup of water from Gold King containing heavy metals. A contractor for the Environmental Protection Agency inadvertently triggered the spill while attempting to mitigate the buildup.
The area has since been declared a Superfund site.
Sunnyside “never owned or operated the Gold King mine and was not at fault for the August 2015 EPA-caused spill,” Gina Myers, Sunnyside’s director of Reclamation Operations, said in an email. “We are pleased to resolve this matter and to see funds going toward further efforts to improve water quality rather than protracted potential litigation.”
Weiser, Dan Gibbs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of state health department, will work with local governments and not-for-profit groups to determine how to allocate the money.