Environment / Sustainability
Water is needed for ore processing, dust control, and other important activities. Water is a limited resource in New Mexico and the Copper Flat Mine will employ best management practices (BMPs) to conserve this valuable resource. These BMPs include monitoring water use, providing for water conservation and water recycling.
70% of the water used for the Copper Flat Mine will be recycled The single largest source of water for reuse will be process water reclaimed from mine tailings. Other sources are:
- Capturing and using storm water runoff from mine facilities
- Using water pumped from the pit to keep it dry during mining
- Dewatering the mineral concentrates produced by ore processing
- Treating and recycling sanitary system and gray water produced on site.
Water conservation will be achieved by implementing operation BMPs such as:
- Reducing evaporation loses through management of water storage areas
- Install water flow tracking and control devices for real time monitoring of water use
- Specify and use water efficient fixtures
- Re-vegetate and/or treat surface areas to reduce the need for dust control water
Environmental monitoring on site will assure that Copper Flat operations and facilities are running according to design and assure that adverse impacts to the environment do not occur. Environmental monitoring during operations will include:
- Groundwater monitoring and analyses down gradient from all major mine facilities. A number of monitoring wells are already in place at the mine site and significant data exist about current conditions.
- Additional monitoring wells will be drilled to collect data around the mine facility including near waste rock disposal facilities and stockpiles, as well as near the tailings storage facility.
- Sampling and analysis of surface water on site when present.
- Collection of meteorological data and particulate dust information.
- Spill and leak detection systems on mine equipment.
After operations cease, environmental monitoring at the site will continue for decades to ensure no lingering effects not recognized during the operation are experienced.
Where practical and economic, THEMAC will consider alternative construction materials and techniques to improve the overall energy efficiency of the Project. This may include renewable energy generation (solar, wind, etc.) for certain buildings.
A weather station has been in place at the mine site since 2010 and has collected, and will continue to collect, information regarding prevailing wind direction and wind speed could be applied to the analysis of the potential for wind energy generation at the site.
A detailed reclamation and closure plan has been prepared for the Copper Flat Mine to describe and show how the site will be reclaimed to meet performance standards and requirements of the New Mexico Mining Act, the New Mexico Copper Mine Rules, and reclamation regulations of the United States Bureau of Land Management. The plan has been presented to State and Federal Agencies for review and the plan has been determined to meet agency requirements.
The Copper Flat reclamation and closure plan will stabilize the site against erosion; return the site to the current land uses of wildlife habitat, livestock grazing and recreation; and develop a self-sustaining ecosystem. Key aspects of the plan are:
- Salvaging topsoil and growth media during construction and storing for use during reclamation
- Removing and properly disposing of operating materials, supplies and waste materials
- Removing surface facilities, building foundations and equipment
- Regrading disturbed areas for stability
- Covering disturbed areas with topsoil and growth media to support vegetation growth
- Re-seeding disturbed areas with approved vegetation species
- Providing stormwater management and erosion protection
- Performing long-term monitoring of groundwater quality and reclamation progress
Before mining activities begin, the Company will post a reclamation bond to ensure that sufficient funds are available to reclaim the site when mining is complete. Using the reclamation and closure plans described above, the Company has calculated total costs to complete the work assuming contractors are used to complete all reclamation and closure activities under the supervision of State and Federal Agencies. The cost calculation and assumptions used have been reviewed by State and Federal Agencies, and when established, the bond will be held jointly by the State and the BLM.