Resolution Copper completes $75m mining restoration project
Resolution Copper has completed a $75 million restoration and reclamation project of 475 acres of land from the Magma Copper Mine near Superior in Colorado.
In a statement, the part-owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto has voluntarily committed to accelerate the reclamation work to demonstrate its commitment to cleaning up mining works in the area, well in advance of any new mine development activities.
“We’re proud to deliver this significant piece of environmental remediation work decades earlier than required, to make our community a cleaner and safer place to live and work. Cleaning up the historic Magma Copper Mine ahead of time demonstrates our commitment to operating safely and responsibly, in a way that brings lasting benefits to the entire community,” said Andrew Lye, Resolution Copper Project director.
"This work was completed by local contractors and ongoing post-closure monitoring and maintenance activities will continue to provide local jobs as an important part of our business."
He adds that in total, the reclamation project has supported more than two dozen local jobs with businesses such as Oddonetto Construction, which is based in Globe, Arizona.
"Resolution Copper has been an important source of business for my firm for more than a decade, and I look forward to continuing to work with the company to grow our business," added Mike Oddonetto, owner of Oddonetto Construction.
The Magma Copper Company ran mining and processing operations between 1910 and 1996, including smelting operations on the site between 1924 until 1971, the statement explains.
Since 2005, reclamation work by Resolution Copper has included more than a decade of soil clean-up, placing a cover with soil and vegetation over the historic tailings, restoring and establishing drainage for the conveyance of stormwater, reshaping and vegetating development rock piles, removing the old concentrator complex and smelter structures.
Reclamation and restoration have included shaping landforms to a more natural landform and vegetating with a native seed mix characteristic of the surrounding Sonoran Desert landscape.
Recently, the completed restoration and reclamation was approved by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). As required, Resolution will continue post-closure monitoring for the next three decades, including groundwater monitoring, surface water monitoring, regular inspection of all facilities and monitoring of the vegetative cover, it continues.
Resolution Copper also recently completed a $200 million project to deepen the Magma Copper Mine Shaft # 9, that was originally constructed in 1971. Over the last four years, the shaft has been sunk a further 2,000 feet to over 6,800 feet below the surface. It now connects to the newer Shaft 10 in two places, improves ventilation, and increases safety by providing a second exit for workers.
Resolution will now focus on the maintenance of Shaft 9 and 10 and continuing the underground characterization study to increase ore-body knowledge, as the project continues to progress through a multi-year federal, state and county permitting process.
After the permitting process, a detailed feasibility study will be completed over several years to inform investment considerations on the project. When an investment decision is made, Resolution Copper is expected to take around 10 years to build the mining infrastructure.
BHP deliberates ditching fossil fuels for greener mining
The world’s biggest miner, Australian-based BHP, is supposedly considering withdrawing from a multi-billion dollar contract, which would see the company generate more than US$2bn due to mounting pressure over aligning its business with ongoing climate concerns and ESG-compliance measures.
Exiting the agreement would mean BHP escalate its distancing from oil and gas and subsequently cut down on the amount of fossil fuels used by the company when mining.
It’s estimated that the petroleum business being debated upon could actually be worth around US$15bn but is still under talks to be put up for sale.
Global Mining Giant Considers Greener Future
BHP has made itself clear that it wants to avoid becoming unable to sell its assets. As competition within the market increases following higher numbers of oil giants wrestling with investors to deal with climate pressure, so too are the number of mining rivals looking to make environmental changes for the future.
However, BHP currently has the upper hand as a stalwart mining company that established itself back in the 1960s, allowing it the time to grow and dominate over other fast-appearing mining competition.
Mike Henry, BHP Chief Executive, has an optimistic outlook for the future of oil and gas despite worries over rising demand to align his business with the Paris Climate Agreement. Henry argues that prices remain promising due to a lack of industry-wide investment.
BHP’s petroleum business won’t be easy to say goodbye to. Forecasted to generate around 6% of profits during the ongoing financial year (US$2bn), and around US$1.6bn revenue produced by BHP petroleum in the six months leading to December 2020, BHP is due to take a hit no matter what agreement they choose.
On the other hand, distancing itself from thermal coal and petroleum would arguably aid the company’s case to possible - and valuable - investors who may be required to fund BHP’s increased output to places such as Australia and Mexico in the near future.
BHP considers cutting billion-dollar contract to aid climate
An exit away from petroleum has the potential to be “a powerful corporate catalyst,” says Dominic Kane, Analyst at JP Morgan.
“We believe an exit would likely ring-fence BHP’s exceptional cash flows for non-fossil fuel organic growth, mergers and acquisitions and generous shareholder distributions since BHP could avoid a major new capital investment phase this decade in petroleum.”
BHP is also set to sanction a giant US$5.7bn Canadian potash mine in August of this year, already seeing potash as a long-term substitute for gas and oil going into the future. The company has also previously announced plans to abandon its 80% share in its joint endeavour with Mitsui, owner of two lower-quality mines in Queensland, Australia.
BHP is scheduled to report its annual results on August 17, after which it may become clearer on whether the company will choose to focus its shift to a low-carbon economy or whether it will stay with its current contract into the coming year.