Green Mining Company Aims to Build Zero-Emission Mine in Arizona

In Mine & Quarry by Jim Silva

By investing in a sustainable mining operation, South32 is committing itself to making a positive impact for its workers, its nearby communities, and its business. 

The first major mining operation to open in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, in decades — known as the Hermosa Project — is also on track to be the most environmentally friendly. The company behind the operation, Australia-based South32 Ltd., has made considerable investments in preparing a “mine of tomorrow” that will be ecologically safe and sustainable for workers, nearby communities, and the environment. 

In fact, South32 recently completed a voluntary clean-up project with a price tag of $30 million. The project aims to protect ground and surface water at the site, which has not been operational for 50 years. South32’s team cleared tailings from the previous mine on-site — the Trench Mine — and updated its existing storage facilities, replacing them with a dry stack system. The new system features an on-site water treatment plant and leak detection technology. 

With mining companies such as South32 leading the way in sustainable operations, other businesses should consider how they can follow suit. Environmentally friendly businesses have a unique opportunity to invest in their long-term interests while abiding by growing state and federal regulations. By choosing sophisticated and sustainable products for mining needs like dust control, mining operations can make this possible. 

Making a Profit and a Positive Impact

With a company-wide goal of hitting net-zero emissions at all of its facilities by 2050, South32’s work in Santa Cruz County is the leading edge of its sustainability efforts. This goal represents the business’s recognition of its environmental responsibility, increasingly stringent government regulations, and a growing public expectation for companies to act sustainably.

While South32 has made strides toward protecting water and air quality — in addition to its carbon neutrality efforts — peer mining companies are also investing in sustainable technology. For example, more and more operations are turning to solar and wind energy, investing in methane-capturing technology, and making smarter use of available land in order to minimize their impact and ensure the longevity of their facilities. 

What the New Project Means for Arizona

The Hermosa Project is already receiving praise throughout the state. As Laura Malone of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s Voluntary Remediation Program says, “It’s a win for the environment, and that’s first and foremost. It’s a win for South32, because they have a viable mine site, and they’re going to be able to be in that area for a long time. And it’s a win for the agency, because we know we have a site that is being managed appropriately and works well with the agency to address any of our concerns.”

According to a recent study, South32’s business will also bring a wide range of economic benefits to Arizona. The Hermosa Project is expected to contribute $21.6 billion to the state’s GDP over its lifetime, in addition to directly employing as many as 525 employees and leading indirectly to over 3,000 jobs for Arizonans in other sectors. 

Investing in Sustainable Mining

With the Hermosa Project setting an example for other mining companies, key decision-makers should consider what they can do to make their operations more environmentally friendly. By investing in sustainable products throughout their mining operation — such as worksite dust control — companies can get the results they rely on without having to compromise on sustainability goals or environmental values. 

The sophisticated line of dust control products from Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. offers exactly those results. For 45 years, our team has worked to develop industry-leading dust control solutions that offer up to radically improved functionality on haul and access roads, helping mining companies maintain healthy and regulatory-compliant air quality. Plus, Midwest’s suite of dust control solutions can help dramatically reduce water usage and grading, saving time and resources for savvy businesses.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive managed service or if you’re just looking to use our cutting-edge products yourself, reach out to the team at Midwest to learn more. With decades of experience helping mining companies be more efficient and sustainable, we’re strategically positioned to help. 

Jim is Midwest’s Business Unit Manager for Global Mining. He is experienced in operations management, asset management, and business improvement.

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