The Franciscan Friars of Saint Barbara, owners of the former Gibson mine site, needed significant regulatory and financial assistance to restore the historic site to productive post-mining use. Historical mining activities resulted in several areas of environmental contamination, including Pinto Creek, a tributary to the Salt River, a primary drinking water resource for the City of Phoenix. Once discovered, state environmental regulators threatened enforcement action against the unsuspecting and ill-equipped Friars.
The Friars, who take a vow of poverty as part of their mission to serve the poor, received the Gibson mine site as a gift in 1969. Their poverty vows left them completely unprepared to undertake the costly cleanup effort. Haley & Aldrich was determined to transform this gift from a liability into a sustainable asset by devising an approach to secure innovative funding and established partnerships to achieve the ultimate goal of remediation.
Haley & Aldrich was instrumental in securing $1.4 million in grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). We also secured in-kind services and donations from BHP Copper and Carlota Copper Company, which met EPA and ADEQ’s grant-matching requirements. We took a novel approach by working with BHP Copper to transport the Gibson mine wastes to their nearby active mine where the waste rock and tailings were recycled to extract remaining minerals for further processing or direct use. This inventive solution reduced transportation distance significantly, saving an estimated $3 million when compared to the alternative of landfill disposal.
Haley & Aldrich also collaborated with the University of Arizona’s Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering to design and construct an innovative subterranean low-flow passive mine water treatment system that requires minimal long-term maintenance.
- Public and private partnerships, grants, and in-kind services led to innovative solutions that saved the Friars almost $3 million
- The quality of the surface water runoff from the site is expected to continue to improve with time as the stream channels are flushed out and the vegetative cover further establishes itself; the estimated reduction in dissolved copper load is 99.8%
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