INTERA Receives 2010 Excellence in Reclamation Award from the Mining and Minerals Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department for Work at JJ No. 1 Mine Site
The JJ No. 1/L-Bar Site consists of a former uranium mill (referred to as L-Bar Mill) and a former underground uranium mine (referred to as JJ No. 1 Mine) located east of Seboyeta in Cibola County, New Mexico. Mining and milling at the site commenced in 1977 and continued until 1981 when the mine closed due to the economics of the uranium industry. The mill processed approximately 2,111,700 tons of uranium ore and the mine produced approximately 898,500 tons of ore. The L-Bar Mill site was reclaimed per U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations and the property was transferred to the U.S. Department of Energy for permanent stewardship in 2003. Surface features of the JJ No. 1 Mine were initially reclaimed soon after the mine was closed. Final reclamation commenced in September 2009 and was completed in August 2010.
INTERA designed and implemented a closure method, termed "hardscaping", that placed natural rock from the mine area over the vent shaft concrete overslabs to simulate natural rock outcrops in the surrounding landscape. Where feasible, the typical vent shaft closure method involved backfilling with at least two feet of cover over the concrete overslabs where landforming could blend the cover into an adjacent hillside. However, a number of the vent shafts in the mine area were not located on terrain that allowed for blending the vent shaft closures into the existing topography without requiring excessive fill or the creation of slopes greater than 3:1.
The hardscaping closure method resulted in vent shaft closures that are more consistent with the landscape, provide permanent closure for the vent shafts, and result in self-sustaining ecosystems that are ideal wildlife habitats for small mammals, reptiles, and avifauna. Hardscaping closure reduced both the amount of additional disturbance required for development of the borrow area and the carbon footprint associated with excavating and transporting fill material. Incorporating the hardscaping methods in the design also resulted in the acceleration of completion of one of the first uranium mine closures in the State of New Mexico. Prior to its implementation, the innovative hardscaping closure method was approved by the Mining and Minerals Division Hard Rock Mining Group.