Reclamation A Key Component For Restoring The Environment | News Release (04/23/2013)
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SANTA FE, NM – Restoring the habitat is important to the mining industry. Restoration of the land takes several different forms, but first and foremost our industry practices its commitment to protect groundwater and restore habitat. Not only is it mandated by law, it is practiced with great success by our members.
“The New Mexico Mining Association (NMMA) works hard to protect the environment. Before any soil is moved on any site, New Mexico copper mining companies conduct a variety of engineering site studies that assess the environment above and below the ground to ensure that they are moving forward in an appropriate manner to restore the environment and protect groundwater,” said Mike Bowen, executive director of the New Mexico Mining Association. “We understand that while mining is critical to New Mexico’s economy, so too is restoring areas where our mining efforts take place. The NMMA is committed to providing strong futures through environmental and economic balance, for generations in New Mexico to come.”
Every day, New Mexico mining crews are reclaiming mines and mining facilities that are no longer used. Since reclamation work began at the Tyrone Mine in 2004, more than $200 million has been spent on reclamation activities at all New Mexico copper mining sites.
The Chino, Tyrone and Cobre Mines have completed extensive reclamation. Chino and Tyrone have reclaimed over 6,800 acres of tailing ponds and stockpile facilities since 2004. A detailed engineering design plan for grading, contouring and capping the top and slopes of tailing ponds and stockpiles with locally borrowed dirt is approved by New Mexico regulatory agencies. After the grading and capping is complete, it is ripped, seeded and monitored. The capping system, also called a trans-evaporative cover system, has three main purposes: to be erosion resistant, to reduce storm water infiltration and to support the indigenous flora and fauna. Extensive reclamation has also been completed at the Cobre Mine, including closure of approximately 83 historic shafts, and reclamation of approximately 150 acres of the Hanover Empire Zinc Mining Area.
“Our ongoing reclamation efforts within New Mexico mining sites ensure that our number one priority, protecting the environment, is always met,” said Bowen. “During reclamation, careful attention is placed on wildlife habitat. For example, underground mining developments may be home to species of bats, so ‘bat gates’ have been developed and installed to exclude curious individuals from entering old mines while preserving the bats’ habitat.”
Whether or not closure is imminent, thorough reclamation and closure plans are in place at all copper mines, ensuring the New Mexico environment is always protected. The Chino, Tyrone and Cobre Mines all have programs that protect the environment and public health and safety. The Mines comply with all applicable environmental laws. However, even as the Chino and Tyrone Mines continue to produce copper, reclamation is either planned or underway for unused rock and leach stockpiles and tailing impoundments that might impact ground water or storm water. Mining operators such as Chino and Tyrone initiate reclamation of mining facilities once they are no longer needed for mining operations.