Nutrien Recognized For Its Environmental Excellence

Published: Jul 04, 2019

The American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA)’s 2018 Environmental Excellence Award was presented to Nutrien in recognition of our outstanding closure design and reclamation of the South Maybe Mine Cross-Valley Fill (CVF) project in Caribou County, Idaho. 

The award is given to a company or operation that best exemplifies AEMA’s Statement of Environmental Principles. 

The South Maybe Canyon Mine was a phosphate mine located on National Forest lands and operated from 1979 to 1984 by Nu-West Industries, a subsidiary of Nutrien. The CVF was the overburden storage area associated with the Mine, and it was successfully reclaimed in the 1980s in compliance with the permit requirements of the time.

But in the late 1990s, it was discovered that as rain and snow fell on the overburden material, higher than normal concentrations of metals were impacting nearby surface water and groundwater. To address this, a low permeability cap was installed over the CVF to reduce contact between precipitation and the overburden materials. 

In 2011, the US Forest Service evaluated several options to address potential environmental impacts at the CVF. Nu-West initiated design work in 2013 and completed construction of the complex, multistage project in 2017. Post-construction monitoring quickly showed dramatic improvements to the water quality in Maybe Creek. Within months of completion, reports showed greater than 95% reduction in metals concentrations in the creek.

“This was a challenging project, but it was also rewarding, and we’re very proud of it,” said Jon Bronson, Nutrien’s project manager for the CVF. 

“Despite the challenges we faced during construction, over 150,000 workhours were completed safely and the environmental benefits were evident almost immediately. Ongoing monitoring has shown consistent improvement, and we expect to see the trend to continue.” 

In addition to Nutrien, key stakeholders in the project included the US Forest Service (land owner, lead regulator), ARCADIS (project design) and Envirocon (construction contractor). Close collaboration amongst all stakeholders in the project was considered critical to its success.