West Plant Reclamation
Making the Superior area a cleaner and safer place to live and work
Resolution Copper is committed to completing a major environmental reclamation project for the West Plant site near Superior affected by previous mining operations. We are continuing land reclamation work to address legacy mining residues by removing soil contaminants and restoring the area with natural vegetation. We’ve already rehabilitated more than 130 acres of the site and consolidated waste from the old mine, improved storm water management and closed historic tailings and waste rock piles with engineered covers planted with native vegetation, making what’s left of Magma’s operation better than when we found it from a safety and health perspective. We have invested $40 million in our land reclamation work so far, and when we’re done we will have invested about $80 million in the project.
We’re committed to playing an instrumental role in preserving Superior’s cultural heritage, and we want to hear from residents about how they would like Resolution Copper to help memorialize the town’s rich mining history. We invite you to email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by our Mine Information Office located at 402 W. Main Street. You can also call us at 520-689-3392 to give your feedback over the phone.
Additional details on Smelter reclamation plans are available in a Q&A format: Frequently Asked Questions
Resolution Copper is in the process of finalizing plans for the remaining work on the West Plant property that was previously occupied by the Magma Copper Mine north of Superior, which operated from the early 1900s until the mid-1990s. In 2015 we announced that the West Plant reclamation plans include removal of the Magma Smelter complex, which we understand has great cultural and historical value in the Superior community. Multiple technical studies have been conducted on the Smelter structures in recent years. Based on the results of these studies, the company has validated and confirmed the necessity of the previous decision that a proactive approach is required to clean contaminants out of the soil and eliminate a safety threat to our employees posed by the unstable Smelter structures.
The Smelter chimney stack in particular has been failing over the years and it is only a matter of time before it comes down on its own. Technical studies show an unacceptable risk of future collapse under heavy stress from high winds. The stack’s current condition does not meet building code requirements under high sustained wind conditions. Wind loading is a measurement of how much stress a structure can withstand from variations in wind forces. As the stack deteriorates, bricks have been falling from it over the years and continue to fall, creating a hazard for people who work near it. Our proactive approach to safely bringing the stack down ensures it will happen in a controlled fashion while reducing impacts on soil, water, air and wildlife.
The removal and cleanup of the Magma Smelter is also necessary for us to complete our environmental reclamation work, which includes proper disposal of contaminants such as arsenic, lead and copper. The Smelter complex contains the site’s highest concentrations of soils affected by metals from historical ore processing operations, and in order to clean up those contaminants the structures must be taken down. Resolution Copper will carry out the work in keeping with our commitment to health, safety and environmental stewardship. We are conducting all reclamation of the West Plant site in accordance with an agreement with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) under the Voluntary Remediation Program and according to Aquifer Protection Permit requirements.
The Resolution Copper team is proud of our work to clean up the Magma Mine site and make it safer. At the same time, we understand the historical value of the Smelter complex and its significance to Superior residents. We know the chimney stack in particular is an important landmark which has come to symbolize the town’s mining history. That’s why the company is going to work with citizens on cultural heritage initiatives designed to preserve the Magma Smelter’s place in the rich mining legacy of Superior. We want to hear everyone’s ideas on how we can help honor and memorialize the past even as we plan for the future. We’ll continue to listen to the concerns of residents and incorporate their ideas into our cultural heritage preservation efforts as much as we can.
Some details of the land reclamation plans are still being finalized, but we feel it’s important to share an outline of the project’s key dates now and to provide updates as we move forward.
West Plant Reclamation Project milestones & key dates:
- Begin removing Smelter buildings in July 2018.
- Finish removal of Smelter buildings in September 2018.
- Controlled demolition of Smelter chimney stack in late October or early November 2018. Exact date depends on weather conditions.
- Finish removal of contaminated debris in December 2018.
- Finish reclamation of surrounding soils in March 2019.
- Finish re-seeding and rehabilitation of Smelter site in April 2019.
Project updates will be posted on this web page.
More information on reclamation work is available here: Reclamation Brochure 2018
Additional photographs and video are available on our Flickr and YouTube channels:
The Resolution Copper mine is a long-term investment in Arizona that will access one of the largest undeveloped copper resources in the world. Through our industry-leading approach to mine development, we are working in partnership with communities, local businesses and institutions to help share the economic benefits of our project.