This blog is the fourth in our series on sustainable closure and reclamation.
Last week on the blog we introduced four members of our regional Closure and Reclamation teams from Ghana, Nevada and Suriname – three regions where the climate, landscape and community expectations vary. Today, we take a closer look at the work in Nevada and Ghana and learn about site-based innovations helping to maximize post-closure opportunities for the environment and local communities.
In Nevada and Colorado, reclamation often starts with re-contouring the land to blend in with the natural topography. Julia Schmidt, the Senior Environmental Coordinator at our Phoenix mine, says, “If, after a few years, it’s difficult to distinguish the reclaimed areas from the natural ones, I know we’ve had a positive impact on the land.”
Julia and her team consider slope stability, foundation quality and the capacity for vegetative growth when planning land contouring. Once the land has been reshaped, seeding can begin. A specially designed seed mix is used, developed based on extensive soil sampling, pH testing and a comprehensive understanding of the plant species native to the area. “I often use a combination of chemistry, water resources and geology in my day-to-day,” Julia says, adding, “We often help develop new tools and innovative methods to achieve positive outcomes for complex reclamation challenges. A great example of this is our work to create an acidity ingress and treatment tool at Lone Tree Pit Lake, a legacy site where low pH in the water has caused excess acidity in the lake.” The calibrated ingress tool is now being used to better understand the source of the acidity so that closure and reclamation representatives can pursue more effective remediation techniques.
At our Ahafo operation in Ghana, Senior Environmental Representative Vida-Rose Asakpo has also been working to vegetate disturbed land. The Brong-Ahafo region, like many biodiversities, is feeling the effects of rising global temperatures, seeing unpredictable rainfall and frequent bouts of drought. As a result, there is an increasing need for sustainable management of forestry and vegetation in the area: “Maintenance of rehabilitated areas is ongoing. Through regular planting, weeding, erosion control, replacement of dead plants and growth monitoring we can make sure that the established vegetation is self-sustaining.” Vida-Rose and her team plant 1,100 seedlings for every hectare of reclaimed land.
Recently, the team at Ahafo began trial on a new initiative that uses compost material from the mine’s integrated waste management facility on reclaimed sites to help increase plant nutrients.
Our site-specific approach to anticipating, understanding and managing the closure obligations of each mine is informed by the needs of the environment and community where the mine is located. Building on industry leading practice, we continue to take a technically and financially sound approach to our closure obligations, adjusting our strategy to improve the accuracy and transparency of efforts in line with our mine and business planning processes.
To learn more about our commitment to provide for long-term environmental stability and beneficial post-mining land uses, visit our annual sustainability report, Beyond the Mine.