Part one of series examining mine reclamation from the Pikes Peak Courier View

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Here’s a report detailing some of the challenges and regulations around reclaiming mine sites, from Norma Engelberg writing for the Pikes Peak Courier View. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

“When you file a mining claim, you have to submit a notice of intent to conduct exploration or prospecting,” [Tony Waldron, supervisor of the minerals program at the state mine reclamation office] said. “A lot of information is submitted with the notice of intent — how much topsoil will be removed, what the predisturbance biology looks like, whether there is any surface water and how you plan to explore the site.”[…]

“It’s all about showing us what’s there now and what you plan to put back,” Waldron said. “A lot of people use ‘restoration’ and ‘reclamation’ interchangeably but restoration means putting the land back exactly like it was. You’re never going to be able to do that. Reclamation means returning the land to a beneficial use. That could mean creating grazing land or wildlife habitat but it could also mean creating a parking lot or building homes on it.”

Along with all the information required, the prospective miner also has to submit a reclamation bond, the cost of which is based on how much land disturbance the mine will create and the cost of the worst-case scenario — the state stepping in to reclaim the site.

“Currently the state is holding about $423 million on reclamation bonds,” Waldron said. “About half of that belongs to a couple of big mines, the rest comes from smaller mines. A big mine might pay $100 million or more; a small mine’s bond might be anywhere from a $15,000 to $30,000.”
Waldron’s office also provides advice on planting mixtures and timetables.

“Reclamation takes time — three to five years at least,” he said. “In Colorado’s climate and terrain, plants take a while to become established but if you follow the timetables for planting you’ll probably be successful in most (non-drought) years.”

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.

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