The most complete guide to Southern Nevada's mining history.
Coliseum Mine is located Southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Nearest town is Primm, Nevada. Primary mining in the area included: Gold, copper, lead, silver, and zinc.
Coliseum Mine is sometimes posted as private property and the gate closed, but the signs never stay up long. When we first visited this mine in 2012, there was no signage and the gate was open and unlocked. Do not alter or remove safety devices, barriers, or signage. I'm not certain of the current land status.
Mining in this area began in the 1860's, but most were underground operations that closed shortly after World War 2. The Coliseum Mine was reopened as an open pit mine in the 1980's following breccia pipes. The open pit is quite impressive and difficult to capture and represent its size without something to reference. The scale of this mining operation is so large that, from a distance, we mistook this mines tailing pile as another mountain.
Leading up to the mine are several structures including cabins, mills, and settling ponds. One of the settling ponds is fenced off, plastic lined, and designated as hazardous pollution. I'm not sure if that pond was marked as hazardous because they used a cyanide gold recovery process or because arsenic was a secondary product of Coliseum Mine.
Following the spiral trail down over 500 feet to the water level gives a better perspective of size. At the bottom, the trail is wide enough to change direction without point turning. The color of the water takes on a blue/green tint that gives the illusion of clarity, but drop a stone into the water and it disappears within 5 feet.I have no idea of the mines depth, but if we estimate the depth to follow the shape of the spiral, approximately 2/3 of this mine is under water.
I am unsure if the water color is natural from mineral staining or some sort of chemical treatment possibly to limit algae growth. There are many small and large animals in the area, including free range cattle, but there are no animal tracks at the waters edge which may be a sign of unsafe water.
In some areas of the pit, the walls are collapsing exposing thick veins of quartz with what appears to be electrum. A natural alloy of gold and silver. Before you head out there looking to fill some buckets, you should be aware that this and surrounding the mines fall within the Mohave National Preserve and removing any material would be illegal.
Coliseum Mine. Ivanpah, California.
USGS Full Report
Primary Mining: Gold, Silver
Secondary Mining: Zinc, Copper, Lead, Arsenic
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