M-I SWACO celebrates national award

by nathan oster

The 120-plus employees who work at M-I SWACO’s two Greybull locations are celebrating a national award for their innovative reclamation efforts.

The Interstate Mining Compace Commission (IMCC) recently announced that M-I had received one of its Kenes C. Bowling National Mine Reclamation Awards, which are given annually to one coal and one non-coal mining company as well as to one small mine operator.

M-I won in the non-coal category, while mines in Indiana and Rock Springs took first place and honorable mention, respectively, in the coal category.

According to a release from M-I, the recipients of the awards are selected based on their level of excellence and innovation in mine land reclamation.  The IMCC is a multi-state governmental organization representing the natural resource and environmental protection interests of member states.

Mart Hinckley, mine superintendent for M-I, said he and geologist Dan Close would be traveling to accept the award next week.

“It’s a pretty big deal for our company,” said Hinckley. “We won it over all the other non-coal mines in the nation, which include iron ore, talc, soda ash … everything ‘non coal’ I guess you could say.

“It shows that our guys have done a heck of a good job.  We’ve gotten some bad press of late, but this shows that we are doing something for the environment out here.  If we are doing better than most of the companies in the U.S. we must be doing something right.”

Hinckley added that regulators pay close attention to the companies that are recognized by the IMCC and that M-I would benefit from the award.

“Bentonite mine land reclamation within Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin is facing ever-increasing challenges,” said M-I in a statement about the award. “With an average rainfall of 5 inches, sodic soils, an explosion of invasive weeds and the responsibility of re-vegetation performance, meeting today’s reclamation standards is an issue that requires fresh eyes on old problems.

“Nine innovative projects were conducted by M-I SWACO in 2012 to address the mitigation of several failed reclamation sites, the chemical and biological control of invasive weeds, the reassessment of soils handing practices, the fostering of agency relationships and the improved coordination of internal mining and reclamation communications.  The address of all of these issues has been a volunteer effort that has gone beyond state and federal mining and reclamation requirements.  The nine projects directly affected a total of 554 acres of native and mined lands, generated a revision in the reclamation practices for an additional 1,248 acres and involved the active participation of several outside agencies and institutions.”