Doe Run’s water management approach is simple: If it falls on our operations or is part of our processes, it’s our responsibility to manage. Water plays a vital role in the company’s mining, milling and recycling operations – and it is also vital for recreational activities and the economies of the communities where Doe Run operates.
“It’s important that we care for this valuable resource by minimizing our operations’ impact on the water at our properties” said Mark Yingling, vice president – environmental, health and safety. “We have invested millions of dollars collecting and treating water at our properties.”
“Water is a resource that’s more valuable than silver or gold. Doe Run strives to be the best possible steward of the natural resources in our care, doing our part to ensure clean water flows through Missouri’s waterways.”
Doe Run invested $13.2 million in 2015 to increase its water management capacity by building a water treatment plant at Buick Mine and Mill. The company partnered with engineers at Woodard Curran to build the facility – the second of five planned water treatment plants for its mines and mills. Read about the first plant at Brushy Creek Mine and Mill.
The plant’s flocculation and chemical precipitation technology helps the company meet water permit limits more efficiently. Previously, water at the Buick Mine and Mill site was pumped to the tailings storage facility, where metals and other impurities settled out of the water to meet permit limits before being released to Struthers Creek via a meander system. The new plant relies on a process similar to municipal water treatment plants to collect and treat water that comes in contact with Doe Run’s operations. After treatment, the water released meets the permit limits.
“Buick Mine is one of our larger mines, which means we have a higher volume of naturally occurring water to manage here than at some of our other sites,” said Amber Nipper, water treatment specialist at Doe Run’s Southeast Missouri Mining and Milling (SEMO) Division. “To accommodate the additional treatment needs, we built the Buick plant on a much larger scale.”
When operating at full capacity, the plant can process up to 10,000 gallons of water per minute. By comparison, a similar, though smaller scale, plant at Brushy Creek Mine and Mill treats 4,000 gallons per minute. This additional capacity means Doe Run is prepared for high rain fall at the site, because any storm water flow must also be collected and sent to the plant for treatment before it can be released.
“Missouri weather can be unpredictable, and we often experience very wet springs, falls and winters, as we did in 2015. In addition, the amount of water we encounter underground in the mines can vary based on the area we are actively mining,” said Samantha Anderson, environmental programs manager at SEMO. “We were very deliberate in designing a plant that can operate reliably and flexibly in even the most challenging conditions.”
The company also created a basin to collect and retain storm water at No. 29 Mine in 2015. To learn about other 2015 environmental improvement projects at Doe Run, read Fulfilling Environmental Commitments.
In 2016, Doe Run will build two additional water treatment plants. A plant at Sweetwater Mine and Mill will manage water collected from the site. The new plant in Viburnum will treat process waters from Casteel Mine and No. 29 Mine, as well as storm water from nearby tailings sites. A fifth and final water treatment plant is planned for 2017.
Charting a New Course for West Fork Stream
In 2014 and 2015, Doe Run’s water management efforts included redirecting a portion of the West Fork Stream that ran across company property, due to a land depression that occurred in the stream and subsequent decrease in the stream’s water flow. Doe Run requested and received permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to create a new channel for the stream in order to protect its flow.
“The West Fork Stream flows across our property and downstream to other property owners, so it was very important for us to work collaboratively with our neighbors, county commissioners and regulators as we addressed this issue,” said Yingling. “Together, we determined that we needed to reroute a 2,350-foot portion of the West Fork Stream to preserve its flow.”
With a team of contractors, regulators and state organizations, the company engineered a new channel for West Fork Stream, located approximately 400 feet from the original channel, during summer 2014. Regulatory agencies, including Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Geological Survey and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, provided oversight and support throughout the process. In total, Doe Run invested approximately $1 million in the project.
“The new channel performed even better than expected,” said Yingling. “Within a few days, fish began swimming around the rocks covering the floor of the new creek channel, and aquatic plants started growing after just a few weeks. In our talks with local property owners, we heard that they are pleased with the creek’s performance and with the native plants we planted alongside the banks to stabilize the channel.”
Doe Run hopes to receive final approval from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Missouri Department of Natural Resources to make the channel permanent by summer 2016. The company will fill cracks in the old channel with clay, and revegetate it with water-friendly plants. It will serve as a flood plain in the event that the new channel overflows during heavy rainfall.