This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join
Environmental Sustainability Award: Hardrock




Climax Molybdenum Company (A Freeport-McMoRan Company)

Wildlife Habitat Restoration, Enhancement or Preservation Program| Repurposing of Mined Lands | Lake Irwin Constructed Wetland Project


About the Project:

Lake Irwin is a portion of the former Robinson Tailing Storage Facility that has been converted into a self-sustaining wetland. As a compensatory wetland to replace 16 acres of impacted wetlands within an overburden expansion project, Lake Irwin has set the stage for a self-sustaining wetland that provides food, shelter, and species-specific habitat to high elevation wetland dwelling flora and fauna. When the project is completed, 32 acres of constructed wetland will have been created. Several factors have gone into construction of Phase Including water diversion, grading, topsoil addition and transplanting of wetland plants from McNulty Gulch (the impacted overburden expansion facility) to Lake Irwin: Phase 1 construction was completed in 2019, totaling approximately 9 acres. The construction of the wetland surface involved excavating a large amount of tailings and relocating that material to one of Climax’s active tailings storage facilities, followed by placement of subsoil and locally harvested topsoil sufficient to sustain a diverse community of wetland vegetation at a high elevation. Water was historically diverted around the Lake Irwin mitigation site to the Eagle River drainage as part of a clean water interceptor system on the north end of Climax Mine Property. A portion of that water is now directed back into Lake Irwin to sustain the wetland. The run-off from the diversion channel is routed into a storage pond surrounding the wetland, which is fed through gate-controlled culverts. This provides a consistent source of water for sustaining the transplanted vegetation. Lake Irwin vegetation is composed of scrub-shrub wetland plants. Approximately 42,700 plants were installed following the completion of phase I. See table 1 for a list of planted species: Table 1: Planted Species Common Name Species Name Number of Individuals Beaked Sedge Carex utriculata 8,370 Water Sedge Carex aquatilis 4,185 Tufted hairgrass Deschampsia cespitosa 4,185 Mountain rush Juncus arcticus spp. littoralis 4,000 Willow cuttings (from overstock facility location) Salix brachycarpa, S. planifolia, S. monticola, S geyeriana 11,500 Willow containters Salix brachycarpa, S. planifolia, S. monticola, S. geyeriana 10,463 Two vegetation surveys have been conducted since the completion of phase one. Digital photos 1 and 2 include several wetland “volunteers” that were spotted within the mitigation area. These tables represent the most current plant counts as of September of 2019. Once Phase II and III are complete, Lake Irwin will span 36 acres of native wetland habitat. Due to the average 300 feet of snow that falls in these sub-alpine habitats, plant growth and species will continue to be observed in the summer and fall seasons over the next 5 years. Climax has recorded a deed restriction for the Phase I area to prevent any future impacts and preserve the wetland.


Annual Water Savings (Gallons): 4,234,856,086


Actions Taken to Conserve Water:

Climax segregates impacted and non-impacted water from mining activities by the site encompassing interceptor channels that route non-impacted water into Tenmile Creek, or Eagle River. Impacted water is caught in the tailings storage facility and recycled into the milling process or treated and discharged into Tenmile Creek. Climax additionally uses magnesium chloride or Coherex seasonally for dust suppression on the roads to prevent excessive water use continuously throughout the year. Lastly, the new administration building has low flow toilets to reduce water consumption.


Energy and Conservation Practices:

The Climax motors were designed to conserve energy by installing variable frequency drives (VFDs) and the gearless design of the ore mills. The mills run off of a magnetically powered ring, which eliminates the use of large motors that consume petroleum-based products. The water treatment plant also has motors that run off VFDs and use gravity flow to reduce energy consumption. Administrative offices have motion sensing lights and the electrical group has been installing LED lighting site wide since 2015. LED bulbs have been installed in several outlying building including the administrative offices. Where LED lighting has not been installed, Climax has replaced T12 bulbs with T5 or T8 bulbs to assist with energy conservation. Lastly, the piezometers used at dams, 5 Dam lighting and pit radar monitoring equipment have been equipped with photovoltaic cells as the sole energy source to conserve energy consumption. Lastly, contractors and employees are encouraged to carpool to reduce energy consumption and vehicle emissions.


Annual Waste—Source Reduction Description:

Climax aims to recycle and reuse materials, and segregate wastes whenever possible to minimize total waste sent to landfill, as well as waste disposal costs. Waste Minimization Goal Statement This statement serves as a waste minimization goal statement for Climax Molybdenum Company. It is the goal of Climax Molybdenum Company to reduce hazardous and non-hazardous waste generation at all Colorado Operations facilities. This goal will be met through continuous training, routine inspection, operational interface, implementation of programs attendant to new or changing regulation, planning of new activities, and persistent evaluation of waste management practices. Several waste minimization methods have been initiated and are outlined below. Additional goals are outlined in the Climax Molybdenum Company Management and Procedures Manual, which serves as both company policy and objective for the management of wastes and materials on site.


Annual Waste—Landfill Diversion Description:

Lead-acid batteries are traded in at the warehouse for recycling. Fluorescent tubes and vapor light bulbs are also collected for recycle. Operators are asked to confer with the environmental department prior to purchase of a new product that may result in the addition of a new or increased volume of waste. Every effort is made to completely use products purchased, the ordering of materials in quantities above normal use is discouraged to avoid expiration or putrefaction of product. Used oil is delivered to the used oil tank; suspect oils are tested prior to delivery to the used oil tank using kit type chlorine detectors; and used oil is recycled where possible. Training has been provided to facilitate the identification of hazardous wastes to prevent mixing of hazardous waste with other wastes, thereby increasing decreasing hazardous waste generation. Scrap metal is accumulated for recycle. Goals have been established to route non-hazardous waste streams such as tires, empty and drained barrels, oil filters, and aerosols to consolidation areas for recycle. Employees are encouraged to target specific work areas for housekeeping and cleaning opportunities that result in reducing the overall volume of product on site. SPCC Plan provides for the comprehensive management of materials on site and is in part intended to minimize the amount of product that would otherwise ultimately be classified as a waste material.


Annual Amount Recycled (Pounds): 4,705,339


Wildlife Habitat Restoration, Enhancement or Preservation:

Climax maintains and annually monitors two areas that were reclaimed with the intent of creating wildlife habitat. The Arkansas River Channel Restoration project was completed in the early 2000 where a portion of the Arkansas River was restored after being buried for protection from mining activities. This project restored wetlands and is annually monitored for vegetative abundance. Robinson Tailings Storage Facility and 2 dam were also reclaimed and seeded in the early 2000 using biosolids compost and a native seed blend that created over 200 acres of grassland for elk herds and other wildlife. Climax also conducts annual aquatic surveys for fish populations and macroinvertebrates of the Arkansas River and Tenmile Creek to monitor stream health and mining impacts.


Sustainability Goal(s) for 2020:

Obtain Wildlife Habitat Counsel re-certification; Continue to build relationships within the community; Employee retention; Reduce energy consumption.




Not a member? Get access to one of CMA's most popular webinars: Sustainability in Mining Operations


Download the Webinar

Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal