CC&V Officials Address Concerns Over Mining Operation Near Cripple Creek

~ by Trevor Phipps ~ 

Newmont Cripple Creek & Victor Mining Company officials grappled with a slew of resident concerns last week during a community open house regarding their latest Cresson operation at the outskirts of Cripple Creek.

About a month ago, the mining company made a clerical error and sent out letters to Cripple Creek residents about blasting operations being done near the Heritage Center and the Poverty Gulch area. The letters were sent out at the wrong time after a public meeting that very few attended was held. Ever since the error was made, a number of Cripple Creek residents have vocalized their concerns at Cripple Creek City Council and Teller County Commissioner meetings.


The letters explained that the mine is beginning to do blasting operations close to the city limits. These operations were approved by the state and county officials nearly 10 years ago, but the project hasn’t moved forward until the last year  


The mine always warns anyone that has property within a 2,000 foot radius of a blasting operation. The purpose of the warning is to alert area residents of the very small chance that pieces of rock could fly into their property and that small vibrations may be felt.


The mining company held a community open house last Thursday at the Cripple Creek Heritage Center and addressed multiple questions from residents of Cripple Creek and surrounding areas. The mining company had their mine manager, Matt Fein, Brad Poulson with external relations and a number of other experts, answer questions from the community.


Most of the questions asked had to do with the chance of vibrations coming from the mine’s blasting operations damaging residents’ homes. Many Cripple Creek residents live in homes that were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many of the property owners of older homes were concerned that the vibrations from the blasting operations may cause structural damage or destroy historic things inside the home, such as century-old stained glass.


The mine manager and other mine experts reassured the residents that the chances of anything happening to their home were very slim. The mine is required to alert residents within a 2,000 foot blasting radius in case they want to evacuate during the blasting. The mine has a system in place where anyone can sign up and get e-mail alerts every time the mine is about to conduct a blasting operation.


The mine also reminded the residents that they offer a third party consultation service free of charge to assess their property and determine if any damage is likely. The CC&V manager also reiterated the fact that if anything did happen to a home, the mine would pay to repair any damage they may have caused. CC&V is currently working on an official procedure to report any damage caused by their operations to the mining company.


Fein and the other experts also answered questions about the potential of vibrations being felt or harming homes in Cripple Creek. The experts explained that they are required to constantly monitor vibrations within their parameters with seismograph machines that are most commonly used to measure the severity of earthquakes. The couple dozen seismograph machines located around the parameter help experts make sure that the vibrations stay under a certain amount regulated by law.


One resident requested to see a print-out of the seismograph readings to determine if they were under the legally allowed level. The mine’s experts showed the previously recorded readings. Fein also even offered to bring a seismograph machine to an ndividual resident’s property to show them that the vibrations were well under the legally accepted level.


Scrutiny over community donations and Cripple Creek rumors


Another concern dealt with why Cripple Creek gets less donation money from CC&V than areas such as Woodland Park. The mine manager explained that the mine works hard to give back to the communities where their employees live.


Fein said that the mine splits up their donation money between communities such as Cripple Creek, Woodland Park, Canon City and Colorado Springs.


Steve Kitzman, director of marketing and events for the city of Cripple Creek, reassured the audience that the mining company donates a lot of money to the Cripple Creek community including donations for the Teller One re-vamping project, the basketball courts at the city’s parks and recreation center and the new Cripple Creek Adventure Park.


The forum also dealt with a familiar rumor in the district: Is the mining company planning on purchasing the entire city of Cripple Creek in the near future. This same rumor often persisted in Victor years ago. The mine manager strongly rebuked this false report, informing residents that the mine has no plans of purchasing the city of Cripple Creek.


A resident nearby Cripple Creek raised a concern to the mine officials that the company’s lights at night are too bright and can be seen from their property four miles away. “The lights are as bright as the lights in Denver,” the resident complained. Fein stressed that the company is required to have the lights set up overnight due to safety reasons.


During the last part of the meeting, the mine officials showed the audience pictures of the mine scars on the mountains from the view of Bennett Avenue in downtown Cripple Creek. The images depicted what the mine scars on the mountains looked like in July of 2015; what the mine scars will resemble 2025; and the view from 2041 after the mine’s reclaiming operations have been completed.