CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Cyanco is delivering cyanide to Newmont Mining Corp.’s Cripple Creek and Victor Mine in Colorado from a new terminal in Cheyenne, Wyo.
The liquid sodium cyanide comes from the Winnemucca plants on Union Pacific rail cars, and TransWood Inc. transfers the cyanide at the terminal to the trucks that then travel to the gold mine near the historic town of Cripple Creek.
“The terminal is owned and operated by TransWood,” but Cyanco designed the terminal and provided technical assistance, said Tobin Kueper, who is technical services manager for Cyanco and closely associated with the Cheyenne terminal.
Train tracks go inside the terminal and allow for two rail cars to be there at one time for transferring the cyanide to the trucks. TransWood employees handle the loading and the transport to Cripple Creek, while Cyanco people visit the site to keep on top of what is happening.
TransWood began delivering Cycano’s product to Cripple Creek from Cheyenne on Jan. 2, replacing the Cyanco truck deliveries of solid sodium cyanide from the Houston area of Texas. The Texas plant went into operation in 2012 for primarily overseas sales.
Kueper said the transition from the solid sodium cyanide to the liquid sodium cyanide and the Cheyenne terminal provide “a lot of flexibility” for Cyanco, which built the Cheyenne system with Cripple Creek as the only customer.
Cheyenne “turned out to be one of the best sites we believe feasible for this customer. This is the place,” he said. “Why we are here is to provide Newmont with a very stable supply.”
The terminal and the mine site have three to four weeks of supply as backup in case trucks can’t make the trip, Kueper said.
“We monitor tank levels here,” he said.
“The CC&V Mine continues to receive a safe and steady supply of products from Cyanco. It has been a smooth transition to the new transportation arrangements,” said Jack Henris, general manager of the CC&V Mine.
Kueper said providing the liquid sodium cyanide to Newmont at Cripple Creek is more efficient. There now are no issues with handling water in cold weather to mix solid sodium cyanide, and time at the mine site is shorter.
Along with the newly constructed terminal, the TransWood site at Cheyenne took over a large building already on the property that is used for offices and provides space for storage or work areas. A railroad spur goes directly to the property, which is part of the industrial Swan Ranch park south of the city.
Swan Ranch Railroad handles getting the rail cars to and from the spur.
TransWood has six or seven employees based in Cheyenne and delivers to Cripple Creek 206 miles away five days a week, with a few trucks heading out a day. The round trip usually takes 10 hours, Kueper said. There are six tractors and five trailers dedicated to the Cheyenne operation.
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There were eight rail cars on site and empties are returned to Winnemucca. The transit time for rail cars from Winnemucca to Cheyenne is 10 days, Kueper said.
“They are our cars. We had them especially built for us. They are dedicated to us,” Kueper said.
Each rail car that was especially designed for Cyanco holds 60,000 pounds of liquid cyanide, which is loaded at a rail spur at Winnemucca. Each truck holds 15,000 contained pounds “so essentially we get four trucks out of a tank car,” Kueper said.
TransWood uses a vapor balance system so there are nearly zero emissions associated with transloading from the rail cars to the trucks, he said.
The trucks travel south from Cheyenne on Interstate 25 to Colorado Springs and then on the highways and county roads to the gold mine so Cyanco has been giving safety briefings to fire and rescue and law enforcement departments along the route.
“We’ve met with close to 100 fire departments,” said Max Jones, who travels all over the world as environmental health and safety and security director for Cyanco.
Jones said Cyanco has a contracted expert, Custom Environmental Solutions, that would be called to any accident involving a leak along the route to Cripple Creek Mine. Fire departments are trained to handle harzardous materials and can stop any leak, but the contractor does the cleanup and remediation.
A leak is safe unless someone tries to “do something with it,” Jones said, which is why the contractor is brought in for the cleanup work.
Cyanco is certified under the International Cyanide Code, and he said Cyanco follows the code in all its operations. All tanker trucks are tracked via satellite. Omaha-based TransWood also is certified as a cyanide transportation company.
“We want the best drivers. We inject our own training, supervision and technology,” Kueper said.
Under the cyanide code, the Cheyenne terminal is considered Cyanco’s since TransWood is certified as a transporter, Jones said.
Cyanco is based in the Houston area at Pearland and the plant at Alvin, Texas, makes the solid sodium cyanide for international sales. The company also has two plants at Winnemucca and terminals in Mexico and Cadillac, Quebec, as well as Cheyenne. Cyanco also has a small office in Reno.
Cyanco started producing liquid sodium cyanide in 1990 at its first plant near Winnemucca to provide product to the growing gold-mining industry in northern Nevada. The second plant went into operation on site in 1997.
The Cadillac terminal is a dissolution facility to serve gold mines in Canada. Solid sodium cyanide arrives by rail cars and is dissolved to liquid for tank trailers to deliver, according to Cyanco.
The company also has the Applied Technology Laboratory in Piscataway, N.J., that is used mainly to test ore samples for customers to determine the best and most cost-effective way of detoxifying cyanide-containing tailings and solutions, according to Cyanco’s website.