Associated Press Potential ballot measure would prohibit open pit heap leaching

DENVER (AP) - Colorado voters may get a chance to decide whether the form of gold mining that produced the Summitville environmental disaster should remain legal.

Volunteers with the Alliance for Responsible Mining are gathering signatures for a ballot measure that would prohibit open pit heap leaching. It is the process in which ore is scooped from the ground, then treated with a cyanide solution to remove gold.

Voters in Montana approved a similar measure in 1998.

Members of the group say the practice is a danger to Colorado water. The group points to the Summitville disaster, which killed all life in the Alamosa River a decade ago, as evidence.

At Summitville, some of the cyanide leaked into streams and groundwater.

Leaders in the mining industry say the proposed ballot item would punish the state's only operating gold producer, the Cresson Mine, which was permitted under tighter regulations adopted after the Summitville disaster.

"Everyone learned from Summitville," said Jim Komadina, president of AngloGold North America Inc.

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