The Ely Copper Mine is an abandoned copper mine located in a rural setting off Beanville Road in Vershire, Orange County, Vermont. The property encompasses approximately 1,800 acres, about 275-350 acres of which were used for copper mining activities from 1821 to 1920. Since 1920, the mining operation has been inactive, except for the removal of "dump-ore" from the property to South Strafford between 1949 and 1950. Currently, the property is owned by Ely Mine Forest Inc. and Green Crow Corporation. Portions of the property are managed for commercial timberland.
The mining operation extends from Ely Brook and continues up a steep slope towards a ridge. Piles of waste rock, smelter waste, and tailings that were generated from mining processes are located on the property. The smelter waste pile is located along the southern section of the property and covers approximately 4.3 acres. This pile consists of slag that exhibits a metallic luster. The tailings pile is located at the central section of the property and covers approximately 10.8 acres. This pile is comprised of a fine-grained material, reddish-brown in color at the surface. Seeps were noted along the western section of the tailings pile. Two intermittent mine drainage streams drain the property. Mine drainage stream "A" flows adjacent to the west side of the tailings pile. Mine drainage stream "B" flows over the tailings pile. The mine drainage stream beds are stained orange-reddish brown due to surface water runoff from the tailings pile on the property.
Remnants of stone works from past mining operations are located throughout the property. There is minimal vegetation in the areas of the waste rock pile, tailings pile, and the smelter waste pile on the property. Woodlands surround the mine property. Downed trees and areas dammed by beaver activities were evident in the Beaver Pond section of the property. The Ely Copper Mine has no restrictive barriers to pedestrian access. During a November 1999 field event, a gate that previously restricted vehicular entry to the access road was observed to be unlocked, damaged, and in an open position. In addition, several people were noted using the property for various types of recreation (hunting, hiking, recreational vehicle use). A gun club has permission to access the property for hunting.
Past mining operations at the site included cobbing, roasting, and smelting the ore. The ore mined at the site averaged 3.3 percent copper. The ore was fragmented or cobbed to a product containing approximately 7 percent copper. Ultimately the ore was smelted to produce a copper matte, a molten mixture of copper/iron sulfide material. In 1918, a flotation mill was built to extract additional copper from existing waste piles on the property. In 10 months, the extraction operation generated 19,000 tons of waste material averaging 1.34 percent copper. According to the volume calculation by the Bureau of Mines, copper mining production generated approximately 100,000 tons of tailings and slag on the property.
Source: US EPA National Priorities list