Repurposing a mine

by | Jan 2, 2019 | Inside Mines, Winter 2019 | 0 comments

Mines students are flexing their creative muscle on a real-life challenge by working with Climax Molybdenum, a Freeport-McMoRan company, in envisioning innovative ways to repurpose the Henderson mine following the eventual depletion of the mineral resource and the social and economic transition of the mine and surrounding communities.

The semester-long Henderson Sustainable Development and Entrepreneurship Challenge kicked off in the fall with 24 Mines student teams pitching concepts for the sustainable repurposing of the mine’s surface facilities and properties. The students’ initial proposals included everything from resorts, education and recreation to business development, data centers and ecological enhancement.

Located near Empire, Colorado, the Henderson mine is an economic driver for the region, paying a significant portion of property taxes collected in Clear Creek County. Student concepts were required to take that into consideration and provide a socioeconomic benefit to the surrounding communities. In addition, concepts had to be economically sustainable, socially acceptable and provide a positive and lasting legacy in the state of Colorado.

“This challenge represents a one-of-a-kind opportunity for students and faculty to apply classroom and theoretical knowledge to a real-world scenario,” said Bill Cobb, Freeport-McMoRan’s vice president-environmental services and sustainable development. “This will help to both create responsible future industry leaders who can execute sustainable development practices throughout the life cycle of a mining operation and bring forward fresh thinking and a diversity of solutions for industry and community that might not otherwise be explored, which is a win-win situation.”