Hecla Greens Creek has an excellent record of environmental stewardship, from our rigorous engineering, safety standards and work practices at the mine site, to our volunteer efforts in the community.
Alaska is important to us and our employees and we are committed to protecting the land, air, water and wildlife on Admiralty Island. Now and way into the future when the mine site has been reclaimed by nature.
Hecla Mining Company’s Environmental Policy
Hecla Mining Company and its subsidiaries will be responsible environmental stewards and strive to minimize environmental effects and risks today and for future generations.
To meet our responsibilities, we will provide the necessary resources to:
- Design, operate, close and reclaim our facilities to comply with applicable laws and regulations to meet accepted standards and go beyond when they do not meet Hecla’s values;
- Continuously improve our safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible use of resources, products and materials;
- Promote employee and contractor knowledge capability and accountability in implementation of this policy through use of environmental management systems;
- Conduct periodic environmental reviews and audits of operations and activities to ensure compliance, identify risks, reduce costs and liabilities, and improve sustainable operations;
- Endeavor to reduce energy and water consumption, implementing continuously improving efficiencies into facilities, projects and operations; and,
- Work cooperatively with educational institutions and agencies to research, develop, and use best technological and management practices to reduce environmental impacts
Each Hecla employee and contractor is responsible for incorporating this Policy into their daily planning and work activities to achieve this commitment.
Hecla’s Board of Directors, through the Health, Safety, Environmental, and Technical Committee, will monitor performance of this Policy.
Environmental stewardship starts with safety, and safety is reliant on the quality, training and dedication of our people. Hecla Greens Creek prioritizes finding the best people and arming them with thorough training and quality leadership. Our goal is to ensure Hecla employees always put safety first in everything they do every day. This is important for the safety of our mine, our environment and our employees, and it means we must maintain a dedication to both big-picture engineering and everyday worksite behaviors.
One of our engineers was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Hecla Greens Creek received a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Award in 2013.
Air and Water Protection
Hecla Greens Creek meets the very stringent state and federal standards for air and water quality. In addition, we continually work to devise ways to conserve water through efficient operations, engineering and training.
Our regulators monitor the mine through a robust program of sampling, quality analysis and audits. We discharge water that is treated to water quality standards, and air emissions. This discharge is regulated through state and federal permits, and is well within the permitting thresholds.
Energy conservation is not just good for our environment, it’s good business. Hecla Greens Creek utilizes hydropower provided by the Juneau-area utility company, Alaska Electric Light and Power (AEL&P). Our power purchase allowed AEL&P to expand its hydropower capability. Since 2006, the use of lower-cost, interruptible hydropower has resulted in a 60 percent reduction in diesel-fuel consumption for our operation. The AEL&P expansion even resulted in significantly lower electricity costs for residents of the Juneau area. In fact, AEL&P customers have some of the lowest electricity rates in Alaska.
Tailings Now and During Reclamation
Hecla Greens Creek Mine was an early adopter of the dry-stack method of tailings management. This method, while not applicable to all situations, minimizes the tailings surface footprint, reduces the amount of water retained in the tailings and lessens the consequences of any potential failure. This method also allows the opportunity for concurrent reclamation that further enhances the site’s stability.
To read more about dry-stack tailings, click here.
In 2010 the United States Geological Survey (USGS) published a peer-reviewed, statistically valid, professional paper (Professional Paper 1763) entitled “Geology, Geochemistry, and Genesis of the Greens Creek Massive Sulfide Deposit, Admiralty Island, Southeastern Alaska.” This publication, and specifically in Chapter 10, presents data on lead isotopic analyses performed on 43 different sulfide samples at the mine site and 15 sulfides from 11 other sites on Admiralty Island. Read more about this publicly available data here.
Hecla Greens Creek strives to reduce waste output on all fronts. We continuously explore the environmentally responsible use of resources, products and materials. We have developed active programs for reuse, recycling and recovery of all non-mineral wastes. Mineral waste (rock from mining development and mill tailings) remain on site and are utilized as much as possible for backfill in our underground mine and construction in and around our operation. Approximately half of the tailings produced are used as backfill inside the mine.