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2012 BLM Reclamation and Sustainable Mineral Development Award Winners

On September 26, 2012, the BLM presented awards for outstanding examples of reclamation and sustainable mineral development. The awards recognize the efforts made in implementing the principles of sustainable development, a concept adopted by the United States and 192 other countries, to balance environmental, economic, and social concerns in planning for mining operations. The awards were presented at an awards luncheon hosted by the National Mining Association in Las Vegas, NV.

The BLM Hardrock Mineral Environmental Award highlights the component of sustainable development relating to environmental stewardship. It recognizes an operator having exceptional accomplishments in meeting or exceeding federal, state, or local reclamation requirements, as well as efforts to work with the public, the Department of the Interior and other regulators to advance multiple-use objectives.

The BLM Hardrock Mineral Community Outreach and Security Award recognizes projects that highlight the economic benefits of mineral development. The award acknowledges operators and other organizations that contribute to the quality of life or long-term health of their local communities. Winners are also recognized for incorporating community concerns in their development or closure plans in a creative fashion.

2012 BLM Hardrock Mineral Environmental Award Winner
Barrick Golden Sunlight Mine

The mining districts of southwest Montana have a rich history reaching back to the 1850’s. Located near Whitehall, Montana, the Golden Sunlight Mine has been working near dozens of historic mining operations close to Whitehall, Montana since 1982. 
The location of the mine’s modern processing and impoundment facility near so many legacy mines made the Golden Sunlight Mine an ideal candidate for an innovative approach to legacy mining material clean up. 

In addition to applying an aggressive approach to more than 1,000 acres of onsite reclamation during ongoing mining for the past 30 years, the Golden Sunlight Mine has also undertaken contracts for the removal, processing and regulated impoundment of materials from a host of legacy mines.

Under various contracts, the Golden Sunlight Mine transports and processes ore, tailings, and rock waste from notable historic mines and districts including the Elkhorn mining district, once the largest silver producer in the country; and the Silver Star district, one of the oldest lode mining districts in Montana.

At the Mammoth mine, next to the South Boulder River; where over one million pounds of copper, 53,000 ounces of gold, and nearly 114,000 ounces of silver were removed between 1905 and 1935; the Golden Sunlight Mine has so far removed 80,000 tons of fine-grained tailings. 

As the Golden Sunlight Mine continues work at the Mammoth mine, efforts will be focused to return the site to the original grade along the river and revegetate the river bank, significantly improving air and water quality, and restoring habitat for fish and wildlife. 

Golden Sunlight Mine has also committed to helping Montana communities prepare for the transition to alternative industries through their engagement in the Community Advisory Transition Committee. 

Over the 12 year history of the committee, the members have established a cooperative planning effort with representatives from local communities, businesses, the State of Montana, local schools, and the Golden Sunlight Mine. 

The Community Advisory Transition Team provided a constructive forum where corporate citizenship and sustainability planning were informed by local needs and perspectives.
The Golden Sunlight Mine has turned liabilities into environmental and economic benefit - greatly enhancing the quality of the environment, saving taxpayer dollars, and creating local jobs.

2012 BLM Hardrock Mineral Environmental Award Winner
Taiga Mining Company- Bear Creek Operation

From the late 1950’s to the mid 1970’s Bear Creek, a tributary to the Hogatza River in Alaska, was dredged and placer mined.   

The stream banks which once provided habitat for moose, and the gravel stream beds that were once spawning habitat for salmon, were left barren for more than 15 years.

In the mid-1990’s, the Taiga Mining Company dredged and re-mined a number of tributaries along Bear Creek and its tributaries: Ida Creek, Aloha Creek, Dry Creek, and Clear Creek. 

Building on the conservation efforts of each subsequent operation, the Taiga Mining Company collaborated with state and Federal agencies to improve conditions across the watershed.  

The Taiga Mining Company’s reclamation efforts have improved in-stream and riparian habitat and now the area is teeming with willow and native plants and shrubs. 

Across hundreds of acres of the Bear Creek watershed, the Taiga Mining Company’s restoration work on stream gradients and flood plains has recreated a natural, meandering stream that provides better habitat for fish, wildlife, and reduced erosion. 

Taiga has used a variety of in-stream projects to improve stream flow and restore fish habitat.

They installed culverts to make it easier for fish to move up and down stream to spawn. Culverts also reduce erosion and improve the integrity of roads across the watershed. Taiga further reduced run-off and erosion from roads with better engineering and use of materials like geo-textiles.

As another way to control erosion and conserve fish habitat, Taiga installed rock weirs. Planting willows and shrubs along the water’s edge also helped to stabilize the stream banks and created habitat for animals like moose, snowshoe hare, and many species of and amphibians.

Working within the Hogatza River Area of Critical Environmental Concern, the Taiga Mining Company’s mining and reclamation work has created local jobs and a breadth of experience for rural Alaskans at one of the largest scale placer gold operations in the United States. 

With improved habitat for chum salmon, a return to natural stream flows, and vigorous riparian habitat, the Taiga Company’s stream restoration work supports a healthy natural environment and community for generations to come. 

2012 BLM Hardrock Mineral Community Outreach and Economic Security Award Winner
Newmont Mining Corporation – Community Investment and Sustainability Programs

For more than 50 years, the Newmont Mining Corporation has invested time, money and resources in the programs and organizations promoting the health, wellbeing, education, and community planning for citizens in the same hardworking communities where Newmont employees live and work.

The Newmont Mining Corporation Community Investment and Sustainability Programs work in tandem to provide long-term, strategic funding to communities and non-profit organizations. These programs focus on the development of sustainable funding sources that will provide benefits to communities well into the future.

In 2010, the Newmont Legacy Fund was established. With a direct employee giving campaign, a community contributions program, and a community endowment fund, the Legacy Fund helps communities meet their social service needs for the future.

During the 2011-2012 campaign, the Newmont Legacy Fund raised more than 1.8 million dollars which was shared with 120 local non-profit organizations in Elko, Carlin, Battle Mountain, Winnemucca, Wells, Wendover; and in the greater Elko, Eureka, Lander, and Humboldt counties.

Under the Community Investment and Sustainability Programs, non-profit organizations can apply directly to the company for funding programs which might be overlooked by other grant programs.

The benefits of the Newmont Legacy Fund and Community Investment and Sustainability Programs enhance the quality of life in numerous ways.

In 2011 and 2012, the Newmont Mining Corporation provided antelope tags and access to the company ranch for the Nevada Outdoorsmen in Wheelchair’s annual hunt. Through the partnership between Newmont and the Nevada Outdoorsmen in Wheelchairs, the ranch is being improved to provide greater wheelchair access for future hunts. 

Newmont has contributed millions to support a range of educational institutions from Boys and Girls Club programs, to colleges and universities that foster the next generation of highly trained industry employees and productive citizens.

Continuing their efforts to improve the quality of life for rural mining communities, the Newmont Mining Corporation has been a participant in the National Summit of Mining Communities. The National Summit is one of the ways in which Newmont helps to prepare communities for a post-mining economy. 

Their commitment to avoid “boom-and-bust” economies is further supported by the Newmont Endowment Fund. Established in 2011, the Newmont Endowment Fund builds on employee contributions and company-matching funds to provide the basis for a long-term financial reserve to support communities in their future transitions to post-mining economies.  

Newmont’s Legacy Fund, the Endowment Fund, and the Community Investment and Sustainability Programs have established a support network across northern Nevada to greatly enhance the quality of life in mining communities. 

Last updated: 09-26-2012