LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Mindy Unger-Wadkins could drive around Three Kids Mine with her eyes closed.
But this was a tour and she wanted to show off land she spent years trying to develop. “This is our ownership map,” she said, unfolding a paper as she gave the tour. “This was the original mill site here.”
Now, Unger-Wadkins and her development company want to turn the site of the abandoned mine into a housing development with 3,000 homes. For 60 years, it has been neglected — but now it’s set for a massive cleanup.
“We know that what is out here, we can handle cleaning up, and taking care of … and absolutely containing,” she said.
The Henderson City Council is expected to approve plans Tuesday.
“It’s just taken 20 years. It’s been a lot of my life,” Unger-Wadkins said. She expects the first homes to go on sale in late 2025.
Three Kids Mine is nearly 1,200 acres of empty land. Between 1947 and 1961, its valuable manganese was pulled from the ground. But once it had strengthened all the steel it could, the mine closed. A polluted site was left behind.
“It’s a big-ticket item to do,” she said.
Getting Three Kids Mine fit for housing has been complicated. It took the creation of a redevelopment area to make the project worthwhile for the developer, the city, state officials and the Bureau of Land Management.
Kirk Stowers’ company, Broadbent & Associates, determined what’s down below.
“Manganese, lead and arsenic,” Stowers said. “It’s not tremendously hard as much as it is somewhat expensive, because it’s largely a dirt-moving project.”
A dirt-moving project that should cost around $250 million. The state has approved to plan.
“All the tailings and waste rock and impacted soils are going to go in here,” said Alan Pineda of the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, pointing into a pit.
Contaminated land will be capped and eventually covered by a park, and surrounded by homes.
“All of this is going to go down,” Unger-Wadkins said, looking over part of the site.
As part of a deal with BLM, work has to start by the summer. Otherwise, a federal act allowing the project expires. Unger-Wadkins says the cleanup could start as soon as March.
“We’ll have models up. People will be coming out here to check it out. The tailings will be gone. All of that will happen,” Unger-Wadkins said. “Finally.”