Sign the petition TODAY: MMD protect our water quality and wildlife from Little Rock Mine Expansion

Freeport-McMoRan to Expand Little Rock Mine

Tell the Mining and Minerals Division to Strictly Enforce the NM Mining Act to Protect Water Quality and Wildlife!


Global mining giant Freeport-McMoRan has submitted an application to the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division for a permit to expand the Little Rock mine and update the associated closure-closeout plan.

Located to the west of the Tyrone mine outside of Silver City in southwest New Mexico, Freeport is proposing to expand the existing Little Rock mine permit boundary by approximately 68 acres to account for the projected expansion of the open pit and associated disturbance areas outside the current permit boundary limits.   At mine closure when dewatering concludes, a pit lake is expected to slowly form within the Little Rock Mine open pit.   After approximately 80 years, the pit lake will cover approximately 42 acres and hold an estimated 5,290 acre-feet of water, nearly twice the amount of water that Silver City currently uses every year.

Freeport-McMoRan and the NM Mining and Minerals Division should explore partial backfill options that would avoid “perpetual care” of the pit lake for surface water quality and wildlife protection.

Although Freeport says that there is low acid-generating potential and sufficient neutralizing capacity to prevent an acidic lake from forming at Little Rock, extensive experience at copper mines around the world indicates that most pit lakes in sulfide rocks become acidic over time.   Since the post-mining land use for the pit lake is proposed as wildlife habitat, attracting wildlife to a potentially toxic water body is not allowed under the Mining Act.  Freeport should consider additional reclamation alternatives that avoid creation of a pit lake that would require monitoring and treatment in perpetuity.

The NM Mining and Minerals Division should strictly enforce the revegetation standards outlined in the Mining Act regulations to ensure that the cover material used at the Little Rock mine will sufficiently reclaim disturbed lands and create a self-sustaining ecosystem.

The NM Mining and Minerals Division has not yet approved the cover material that Freeport proposes to use to reclaim stockpiles at the Little Rock mine.  The company has not demonstrated that the coarse rock material called “leach cap” will meet reclamation requirements to control erosion, prevent release of acid or other toxic substances, and support plant growth sufficient to create a “self-sustaining ecosystem,” the standard mandated in the NM Mining Act.

Please take action BY SEPTEMBER 23, 2015 and tell the Mining and Minerals Division to ensure that our water quality, environment and wildlife are protected by strictly enforcing the requirements of the Mining Act!

To review the permit application information, visit the MMD Little Rock website.

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Gila Resources Information Project

305A North Cooper Street
Silver City, NM 88061

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