As we celebrate Earth Day, let’s not forget the contributions of the hard working men and women in our industry to the environment. Since the era of modern mining regulation began more than three decades ago, the industry has reclaimed more than 2.7 million acres of land. Emissions from coal plants have declined by nearly 90%. Thanks to modern mining practices, the air and water is cleaner. Mines exemplify the best environmental practices, as demonstrated by the many awards that companies have received for outstanding reclamation and environmental stewardship.
Here are just a few examples of achievements over the years:
The Trapper Mine in Northwest Colorado received the Office of Surface Mining’s 25 year achievement award as one of the top three examples of reclamation in the entire history of modern mining regulation;
The Climax Mine has converted mine tailings ponds to reservoirs and trout ponds, which now serve as the source of drinking water for surrounding communities;
The Climax Mine bio solids project accepts treated municipal waste from numerous counties and uses it for high altitude vegetation growth. The company has also installed state of the art water treatment facilities to protect the surrounding watershed.
The Oxbow Elk Creek Mine methane capture project provides power for the Aspen Ski Resort.
Mines are great recyclers. In fact, the mines in Colorado reuse virtually every product on site. They are also good neighbors to local communities. The Cripple Creek & Victor Mine repurposed old tires for use as rubber mulch in a local playground. Mines have built baseball fields, community centers, health and athletic facilities for local communities.
Don’t forget the role that mineral products play every day in helping our environment. Clean coal accounts for more than 64% of Colorado’s electricity; molybdenum removes sulfur from petroleum products; nahcolite (pure sodium bicarbonate) reduces power plant emissions; and it’s hard to count the minerals in wind turbines and hybrid vehicles!
Finally, the CMA is the only state mining association to have earned a Friend of EPA Award for developing a groundbreaking Environmental Stewardship and Pollution Prevention Code of Practices for the mining industry.
And as our nation celebrates Earth Day, remember to thank a miner.