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Former Mine In Missouri’s Old Lead Belt To Be Reopened For Cobalt Mining

Remnants of a former mining operation near Fredericktown at the Madison County Mines Superfund site in May 2017.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio
Active mining hasn't occurred at the Superfund site in Fredericktown since the 1960s.

Missouri Mining Inc. plans to create up to 700 jobs by reopening a mine at a Superfund site in Fredericktown, Missouri. 

The company wants to extract cobalt from the Madison Mine, which it purchased last year. The mine has been inactive since the 1960s and is a part of the Madison County Mines Superfund site, an area contaminated by historic lead mining. 

Environmental Operations, a Missouri Mining subsidiary, plans to begin cleaning up the site this winter. Missouri Cobalt, another Missouri Mining subsidiary, could hire as many as 400 temporary workers and 250 permanent workers to rebuild and operate the mine. 

The Environmental Protection Agency expects the cleanup to be completed in March 2022. Because of the cleanup efforts, less than 2% of children in the area have elevated lead levels in their blood, down from 27% in 1996, EPA officials said.

The site was a part of the EPA’s Superfund Redevelopment Initiative, a program that aims to reuse Superfund sites. The program reached its 20th anniversary this week. 

“Over the past 20 years, the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative has proven that incorporating reuse early in the process removes barriers to redevelopment and ensures that cleanup plans promote future economic and recreational activities,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a press release. 

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Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.