Environmental and Cultural Resource Protection

Environmental and Cultural Resource ProtectionBig Metal’s exploration and mining activities will be regulated under the National Historic Preservation Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and other applicable federal laws. In addition, the agreements between Big Metal and the Crow Tribe obligate Big Metal to work with the Crow Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) and give the Tribe the right to designate specific sites for protection. Further, Big Metal’s mining activities can only be conducted after appropriate consultation with the Tribe, OSM, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as appropriate and required under federal law. Mining must be conducted in accordance with any agreements reached through consultation, and any excavated or recovered objects must be turned over to the Tribe or federal government, as appropriate, unless otherwise agreed. In all cases, Big Metal intends to approach the Tribe and its cultural sites with respect.

Cloud Peak Energy is proud to have a strong environmental reputation, partly from taking positive actions well above and beyond any regulatory requirements. Examples include:

  • Care and attention to water in mining and reclamation – such as recycling water whenever possible – or detailed designs to ensure water pools are formed and available in the dry summer months in the reconstructed Belle Fourche River, just like they were in the original – or designing reclaimed draws and coulees to look like the surrounding features;
  • Established techniques for seeding and growing big sagebrush and other shrubs on reclamation, providing habitat for species such as sage-grouse;
  • Adapting reclamation to meet the needs of special plant species such as woolly twinpod that rarely produces seed and grows only in rough scoria breaks (Spring Creek Mine has collaborated with a consultant to grow them in a greenhouse and transplant them to special reclamation sites) or purple coneflower – one of its other common names is Like Comb – that has been overharvested; special reclaimed areas at Spring Creek Mine have been seeded with this species to provide a refuge.

These and many other pro-active approaches by Cloud Peak Energy have been recognized by local, state and national environmental awards.

Cloud Peak Energy respects the significance of cultural features in the areas of our operations. We diligently conduct pre-mining surveys to identify features and have followed and will continue to follow any related mitigation actions developed with Tribal and state and federal agencies, including Tribal and State Historic Preservation Offices. We work to protect significant features – one example is the changes in leasing and mine plans made to mine around a significant rock art site at the Spring Creek Mine, with additional monitoring to ensure that vibrations from mine blasting do not impact the rock art.