DEQ Recognizes Hecla Mining as a 2019 Pollution Prevention Champion
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Boise — The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recognizes Hecla Mining as a 2019 Pollution Prevention Champion for reducing waste and pollution at its Lucky Friday mine.
“The upgrades, process modifications, and recycling projects that have been implemented at Hecla’s Lucky Friday mine have resulted in significant reductions of waste, water, and energy used by the mine for the production of silver, zinc, and lead. With growing demand for these metals, eliminating waste and pollution from production is more important than ever,” said Ben Jarvis, DEQ’s pollution prevention coordinator.
Pollution prevention includes any technique that reduces or eliminates the generation of pollution. In contrast to most pollution control strategies that manage a pollutant’s effect on the environment after it has been generated, pollution prevention seeks to eliminate or minimize the amount of wastes and pollutants before they are generated.
To qualify for pollution prevention recognition, Hecla Mining submitted an application demonstrating how they incorporated pollution prevention into daily operations by reducing raw materials or toxic materials purchased, hazardous or solid waste generated, water, energy or fuel used, or air pollutants emitted.
“One of the driving features behind waste reduction at the mine is the implementation of an Environmental Management System that focuses significantly on risk reduction. This policy has allowed the company to systematically identify and eliminate environmental hazards and the wastes associated with them, resulting in significant reductions in pollution,” said Jarvis.
The mine’s pollution reduction successes include process modifications that have reduced water use by over 125 million gallons annually, wastewater treatment plant upgrades that have reduced lead and zinc concentrations in effluent by 96.5% and 97.5% respectively, and waste management programs that recycled 4,200 gallons of used oil, 2,572 pounds of lead-acid batteries, 55 gallons of antifreeze, and 56,960 pounds of scrap iron/steel in 2018.
The mine has also purchased over 21,000,000 kWh of renewable energy for its electricity needs, and implemented a biodiesel purchasing program to cover its fuel needs, totaling 168,095 gallons in 2018.