NvMA President Dana Bennett:
For nearly 30 years, the State of Nevada has required the reclamation of any site that has been used for mineral exploration or extraction. In 1989, the Nevada Legislature approved laws that established a comprehensive regulatory process governing the reclamation of mined and explored lands. This process included the development of a reclamation plan and he posting of financial assurance that the work would be completed. As is often the case in mining policy, Nevada’s actions set the standard for hard-rock reclamation legislation in the rest of the country.
During the intervening years, Nevada’s mining industry has worked hard to meet — and often exceed — these requirements. At the front end of a mining operation, during the permitting process before the mine opens, the company is required to post financial assurance with the State of Nevada. Through a formal agreement with federal land management agencies, the Nevada Division of Minerals (NDOM) holds these assurances, which are intended to reclaim mining disturbance if the mining company, for whatever reason, cannot or does not do it. Currently, the Division holds about $2.6 billion in financial assurances for mining operations throughout Nevada.
Not all reclamation activities must wait until a mine has closed. Many companies include concurrent reclamation efforts within their plans of operation or expansion. For example, a company will reclaim a waste rock facility or a portion of the mine that is no longer productive. With careful contouring of the land and nurturing of native plants, the reclaimed area soon blends the perfectly with nearby, undisturbed acreage. Often, the casual observer cannot tell the difference between a place that has been reclaimed and a place that has never been mined. In recognition of the good work being done throughout the state, the NDOM began presenting its Excellence in Mine Reclamation Awards in 1991. According to NDOM, the purpose of the program is “to recognize and share examples of successes in the areas of reclamation, closure, planning, and wild- life protection and enhancement in Nevada.” This year, Governor Brian Sandoval joined NDOM Administrator, Rich Perry, in the presentation of these prestigious awards to three very deserving mines.
Newmont’s Bootstrap-Capstone-Tara Waste Rock Facility Reclamation Project won in two categories: Overall Mine Reclamation and Wildlife Habitat Enhancement. This project demonstrates fabulous grass and brush growth over the past 10 years. Newmont was also recognized last year for reclaiming a site that had been abandoned decades ago and yet still posed hazards to Battle Mountain residents.
Rye Patch Mining was honored for Reclamation Design and Planning for its Standard Mine North Waste Rock Storage Facility Reclamation Project. Also mentioned was the good work currently underway on the Florida Canyon Phase II Leach Pad Reclamation Project, which may be considered during next year’s award cycle. Anyone traveling along Interstate
80 can see the success of this reclamation project near the Humboldt exit between Lovelock and Winnemucca.
Jerritt Canyon Gold earned the award for Innovative Reclamation and Closure in an Alpine Environment with the Gracie, Snow, and Marlboro Canyon WRD and Marlboro Canyon Bioreactor Reclamation Project. In particular, NDOM acknowledged Jerritt Canyon’s passive bioreactors, also called Sulfate Reduction Trenches, which treat discharge water with microorganisms and make the land useful for wildlife, ranchers, and hunters. These distinguished awards commend exceptional projects that can serve as prototypes for the rest of the country. They are competitive awards because so much good work is being done in Nevada. The committee that evaluates the various projects is a serious and experienced group of state and federal regulators from NDOM, the
U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.
These projects and many others visibly demonstrate the mining industry’s commitment to the State of Nevada and its residents. The Nevada Mining Association is proud of its members’ dedicated and exemplary work as demonstrated over 25 years (and then some) of NDOM’s reclamation awards program. In particular, congratulations go out to the Northern Nevada mining employees whose efforts win awards such as these.