Solar test site at Rosemont

When it comes to the environment, this project has been thought through in ways that might surprise you 

Agave plant at the Rosemont project 

More than 1,000 studies were performed to support the permitting and environmental review processes during the 11+ years the Rosemont Project was under review by the Forest Service,

The Forest Service was required to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), based on the size of the Rosemont Project and the use of Federal lands. 

The NEPA process is used to assess and disclose the potential impacts of a proposed action prior to making a decision. This level of analysis is the highest required by the Federal government in today’s permitting framework. 

Development of an EIS requires the evaluation of potential impacts on both the natural and human environment; it therefore includes the study and evaluation of not only biological and environmental impacts, but also economic and social impacts. A final EIS was issued for the project in December 2013. 

With over 1,000 studies used to support the conclusions presented in the final EIS, a great deal of effort has gone into evaluating the potential impacts. This process culminated in the issuance of the Final Record of Decision (FROD) by the Forest Service on June 6, 2017. The FROD stipulates the conditions under which the project must be operated in order to protect resources.

Rosemont is determined to minimize possible impacts on air quality by using the best technology available. 

That principle will be applied to the selection of everything from the engines in our large mining equipment to the dust collectors on process equipment. Air quality monitoring will be conducted in accordance with an air quality control permit issued for the project by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).

These are some of the steps we’ll take:  

  • Rosemont will install cartridge-type dust collectors that will provide a high level of control for air emissions from the process operations.
  • The main stockpile ofore, along with the concentrate load-out facility, will be covered to prevent wind-borne dust.
  • Conveyors in the plant will also be covered to prevent the generation of wind-borne dust during transport. Water sprays will be added as needed along the conveyor line to control dust generation.
  • Because the dry stack (filtered) tailings will be placed behind a thick rock buttress, the surface area available for wind erosion of the tailings will be reduced. The outer buttress will be above the level of the tailings surface, eliminating a typical source of dust generation in a conventional tailings facility. In the case of the Rosemont Project, the outer slopes of the tailings will be constructed of waste rock. These outer slopes will also be concurrently reclaimed as the operation progresses, further eliminating potential sources of dust. Use of the dry-stack tailings disposal method also allows access to the entire top surface of the facility. Dust control methods, such as the use of dust suppressants, can be deployed at any location on the top surface should the need arise. 
  • We'll use buses powered by natural gas to transport employees to and from the site, which will reduce emissions (and traffic on State Route 83).
  • All haulage trucks, and other equipment as available, will have environmentally efficient Tier 4 engines. That will reduce emissions by achieving up to 90% reduction in particulate matter and 50% reduction in oxides of nitrogen.
  • Road watering, including the use of road binders, will reduce the generation of fugitive dust emissions by mine traffic.

Reclamation - we believe in returning a site back to nature, as soon as possible 

Wild geese thriving in remediated Hudbay tailings facility in Flin Flon

Rosemont’s design philosophy is “begin with the end in mind.” This philosophy was adopted to ensure that the project site, as designed, could be reclaimed concurrently during operations. 

Reclamation on site will begin early in the life of the project. Outer slopes, created by earth and rock placement, will be graded, topped with soil and then seeded with native grasses and other plants.

Stormwater controls will also be constructed on the outer slopes. Reclamation in this manner allows Rosemont and the Forest Service to monitor and adjust reclamation practices as needed to ensure success. 

Measures that will be the hallmarks of this effort include: 

  • Parts of the site will be left in their natural state. As we reclaim the site, we will compare our reclamation efforts against the untouched areas. Those comparisons will tell us how well we’re implementing effective reclamation. This will go on throughout the life of the project.
  • Ecologists from the University of Arizona (UofA) helped identify the seed mix and reclamation practices that will be used to reclaim disturbed areas. The UofA developed and monitors test plots on site to make sure we get the reclamation right. Invasive plant species, including those that occur naturally, can take over and crowd-out native species. On the Rosemont Project site, they’ll be monitored and managed.
  • Slopes and banks and similar landforms will be designed and constructed to minimize erosion and allow for the use of agricultural or other seeding equipment.  

Rosemont is required to put aside money to guarantee reclamation and closure activities occur as promised. Bonds will ensure all Forest Service reclamation standards are met. Bonding is an important part of the reclamation and closure plan approved by the Forest Service. 

The bonding amounts will be reviewed and updated every three years and are in addition to the financial assurance required by ADEQ, the Arizona Corporation Commission for power line demolition and the Arizona State Mine Inspector to make sites safe and stable on private lands.

 Environmental revegetation work at Hudbay's Constancia mine in Peru

Keeping Dark Skies Dark

The Rosemont Project will employ advanced lighting technology to minimize the effects of artificial lighting on the night sky.

A local Tucson firm developed the outdoor lighting plan for the project. It will use filtered, shielded and directed LED fixtures. 

This plan balances the need to provide sufficient lighting to keep workers safe with the need to keep the skies dark. The plan is both compliant with the Mine Safety and Health Administration requirements for worker safety and responsive to the needs to the astronomy industry in Arizona.

An independent third party will take measurements of the night sky.

During operations, light emissions will be monitored by Western Research Companies, an organization dedicated to understanding the effects of maintaining dark skies on astronomy and the environment. 

Rosemont will also provide initial monitoring set up and then annual funding to the Smithsonian at the Whipple Observatory on Mount Hopkins (http://www.sao.arizona.edu/FLWO/whipple.html) to measure light and light effects.

Solar Energy Proving Ground

Solar test site at Rosemont

Rosemont has partnered with the University of Arizona's Research Institute for Solar Energy (AzRISE) and has awarded five $100,000 grants to renewable-energy companies to install solar systems for testing at Rosemont's Hidden Valley site.

The output of each system is being measured to provide information on the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the systems. In addition, students from the University of Arizona received hands-on experience through research and internships at this solar proving-ground site.

On average, the energy output recorded by the installed systems is sufficient to power at least 12 homes annually. Testing and energy production at this solar test site will continue throughout operation of the Rosemont Project and will be used to offset power consumption at the project administration building. 

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