When the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum started brainstorming the idea for an exhibit on mining reclamation, the go-to for expertise on the topic was a no brainer: Climax Molybdenum. With a longstanding record of responsible reclamation – not to mention two recent awards from the Colorado Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety – Climax is well versed in responsible, sustainable practices. “I was asked by Jordan Bennett, museum curator, to help with the exhibit because they wanted someone from the industry to provide content and help explain in a general sense how mine reclamation is done,” said Diana Kelts, Manager-Environmental at Climax. “It’s kind of a ‘Reclamation 101,’ with everything from planning and the beginning of a mine all the way to closure.” Bennett said one of the struggles was helping people understand reclamation is not an afterthought.
“You don’t open and start a mine without having a reclamation plan and all the permits already in place for what you are going to do when you close down the mine,” Bennett said. “That’s why we’re so excited about adding this as a permanent exhibit to the museum and why we’re so grateful to Climax for not only the financial support but all the content and resources they’ve provided. This would not have been possible without them.” Climax operations provided financial support for the development of the exhibit and subject-matter expertise on reclamation and its history and practice in mining from Kelts, Nell Wareham, Manager-Strategic Community Development at Climax, and Tom Calhoun, Director-Closure Reclamation Planning in Tucson. The permanent exhibit is expected to open in November. Located in Leadville, Colo., about 12 miles southeast of the Climax mine, the museum holds stories of more than 250 men and women, detailing their contributions to mining and natural resources. “We provided photos from Climax and other content, used an example of restoration that Climax has done on the Arkansas River, and we also provided a mock piezometer as an example of some of the instruments we use,” Kelts said.
The exhibit serves as an important teachable moment about ongoing monitoring and research for all aspects of reclaimed areas from vegetation, wildlife and insects to soil, water and air sampling. “To me, the important aspect about reclamation and restoration is that as a company, you do what you say you will do with your mine closure plans, and with Freeport, we are demonstrating just that,” Calhoun said. “Our results are not just visual; we have years of data that prove our reclamation projects are successfully reestablishing ecosystems that match with the surrounding undisturbed areas.” Climax won the 2020 Award for Excellence in Hardrock Reclamation from the Colorado Mining Association and the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, while the Henderson mine and mill also received the 2020 Award for Best of the Best in Environmental Stewardship.