Wednesday, December 19, 2018
CONTACT: Anthony Roeber
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AEMA Recognizes Projects for Environmental Excellence

SPOKANE, WA – The American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA) honored two western mining projects with AEMA’s Environmental Excellence Award at its 124th Annual Meeting earlier this month in Spokane, WA. The awards were presented to: Nutrien Ltd. in recognition of their outstanding closure design and reclamation of the South Maybe Mine Cross-Valley Fill project in Caribou County, Idaho; and to Rio Tinto Kennecott in recognition of their commitment to lifecycle mine planning and their outstanding work in closing and reclaiming the Barney’s Canyon Mine, Salt Lake County, Utah.

“AEMA is proud to recognize two projects that exemplify not only AEMA’s Statement of Environmental Principles, but also illustrate the industry’s commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability throughout the entire mining life cycle from exploration to reclamation and closure,” said Executive Director Laura Skaer. “In both of these projects potential environmental impacts were comprehensively identified and appropriately evaluated, managed, and mitigated.”

Nutrien Ltd.

The South Maybe Canyon Mine was a phosphate mine located on National Forest lands and operated from 1979 to 1984. The Cross-Valley Fill (CVF) was the overburden storage area associated with the mine. The CVF was successfully reclaimed in the 1980’s in compliance with permit requirements of the time.

It was later discovered, however, that higher than normal concentrations of minerals were impacting nearby surface and groundwater. Consequently, the company initiated design work in 2013 and completed construction of the complex, multistage project in 2017. Post-construction monitoring quickly showed dramatic improvements to the water quality in Maybe Creek. Within months of completion, reports showed greater than 95% reduction in mineral concentrations in the creek.

“This was a challenging project, but it also was rewarding, and we’re very proud of it,” said Jon Bronson, Nutrien’s project manager for the CVF. “Despite the challenges we faced during construction, over 150,000 workhours were completed safely, and the environmental benefits were evident almost immediately. Ongoing monitoring has shown consistent improvement, and we expect to see the trend continue. Nutrien is proud and grateful to receive recognition for this work”

Rio Tinto Kennecott

Located on the East slope of the Oquirrh Mountains at the foot of the Great Salt Lake, the Barney’s Canyon Mine operated from 1989 to 2013, producing more than 2 million ounces of gold. In 2002, as the mine continued to operate, Rio Tinto Kennecott proactively began their reclamation efforts, reclaiming areas no longer in operation. To date, 800 trees and shrubs native to the area have been planted, making visible to the Salt Lake Valley a flora of maples, oaks, and serviceberries. With 850 acres reclaimed thus far, Rio Tinto is currently embarking on the final stages of reclamation on 350 additional acres. When completed an estimated $50 million will have been invested in the closure and reclamation of the Barney’s Canyon Mine.

“This award is an acknowledgement of many people coming together under a culture of holistic lifecycle mine planning from exploration through mine closure and beyond,” said Steve Schnoor, reclamation manager at Rio Tinto Kennecott.