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Climax Mine: a reclamation success
Last month, Freeport-McMoRan’s Climax Mine in Colorado celebrated its grand reopening after a 17-year hiatus. A $700 million facilities upgrade brought the world’s largest, highest-grade and lowest cost undeveloped molybdenum ore body facility back into production.
While closed, the Climax Mine underwent a successful reclamation—the process of restoring land that has been mined to a natural or economically usable purpose. The mine, which initially closed in 1974, faced many environmental challenges, namely two sand-like disposal ponds totaling about 125 acres. Careful research revealed that waste products could be utilized in the reclamation; 1.5 million tons of rock, 4,200 tons of dry sewage sludge and 24,000 cubic yards of wood chips were added to the ponds, stabilizing the tailing area and providing a growth medium for vegetation.
The area was then seeded with various grasses suited to live at the site’s high altitudes, which were irrigated during the first growing season to ensure the establishment and germination of the seeds.
During the process, the Climax Mine received the Colorado Division of Reclamations Mining and Safety’s “Hardrock Reclamation Award” in 2010 for channel restoration in the headwaters of the Arkansas River. The reclaimed area was also the background setting for a Coors commercial.
To learn more about this innovative reclamation project, watch this video.