Climax mine to receive state reclamation award
DENVER – The Climax Mine on Fremont Pass, one of Colorado’s oldest mining operations, will be recognized next week for an innovative reclamation project that is helping local communities handle sewage sludge disposal.Since 1998, the Climax Mine near Copper Mountain has accepted biosolids waste from several communities that is being used to reclaim and revegetate lands affected by past mining activities.The tailings ponds being reclaimed are in Summit County. The mine is in Lake County.The program, developed by the Climax Molybdenum Co., a subsidiary of Phelps Dodge Corp., is helping counties develop alternatives to costly landfills for disposal of biosolids.Climax will be awarded by the Colorado Division of Minerals and Geology, which regulates mining in Colorado, and the Colorado Mining Association.The award for outstanding reclamation of a hardrock mine will come at the 106th National Western Mining Conference Feb. 6.The Climax mine operated for three quarters of a century, producing molybdenum, a metal that is used in alloy steels, automobile safety airbags and a variety of environmental applications.Although the mine is moth-balled, the company’s long-term plans assume the mine will resume operation at some point in the future, Climax officials said.As Colorado’s population has increased, so have the costs of providing waste disposal to resort communities.In the late 1980s, biosolids disposal costs in the resort communities surrounding the Climax Mine approached $1,000 a dry ton and all the local wastewater treatment facilities were exploring cost-saving alternatives to placing the biosolids waste in landfills.The need for a new solution to biosolids management in conjunction with the need to dispose of wood residuals made economic and environmental sense for use of these waste products as a reclamation growth medium at the mine.In 1996, Climax established a pilot demonstration project that showed the use of biosolids for reclamation would decrease reclamation costs at the site by up to 65 percent.In 1998, an agreement was made with the local wastewater districts to offset their disposal costs and to develop the beneficial use of biosolids for use in reclamation of the Climax Mine.The capital cost savings to local communities has been in the millions of dollars, mine officials said.About 1,000 dry tons annually of biosolids are transported to the mine to blend with wood waste for reclamation of the surface of the Robinson tailing facility as range or wildlife habitat.New areas to be reclaimed each year are only limited by the availability of biosolids.After five years of the revegetation program, the Robinson tailing facility has become a popular grazing area for elk.CMA president Stuart Sanderson praised the company for helping the counties resolve their environmental problems.”This is why mining is good business for Colorado and mining companies are good neighbors in the communities in which they operate,” he said.”The Climax Mine staff is to be commended for developing a cost effective and creative solution that helps local communities resolve their environmental problems while at the same time promoting reclamation.”The 106th National Western Mining Conference & Exhibition is Feb. 4-6 at the Hyatt Regency in Denver.
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