Land Management & Biodiversity

Protecting biodiversity at our mine sites and in surrounding habitats is a critical part of Hecla’s planning process and operational plans, which include comprehensive land and habitat management activities.

Just as we minimize environmental impacts when operating our mines, we are also committed to returning the land to other productive uses when the mines close and safeguarding the biodiversity of our surrounding ecosystems.

Overview of Hecla’s Reclamation Activities

Our sites begin planning for reclamation and closure at the beginning stages of our projects and are required to maintain approved reclamation plans as the project progresses. Hecla has posted approximately $190 million in bonds to ensure that closure and reclamation occur at all of our sites.

Troy Mine Tailings Storage Facility

The Troy mine in Montana has completed most stages of closure and reclamation and is now focusing on habitat improvements.

An image of the Troy Mine.

2017

Workers began the process of moving and placing almost 450,000 cubic yards of soil over 308 acres.

An image of some land and trees.

2018 & 2019

We partnered with tribal nursery to collect native plant seedlings and planted more than 200,000 trees and shrubs.

A graphic of plants.

2020

A self-sustaining native forest community and wildlife habitat is already growing and coming to life.

2022

Brown bear on re-vegetated portion of the tailings storage facility.

Learn about our reclamation efforts at Troy Mine.

San Sebastian Reclamation Award

In Durango, Mexico, the San Sebastian site has returned large areas of land to a high-quality condition that is suitable for agricultural use. In 2023, we continued to monitor the land to ensure a stable surface and conduct other environmental monitoring as required for our permit. The American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA) presented us with the 2022 Environmental and Sustainability Excellence Award for these activities at San Sebastian in acknowledgement of our overall commitment to the highest environmental and sustainability standards.

San Sebastian Reclamation on Responsible Mining post

Reclaiming Land at Keno Hill & Lucky Friday

At the Keno Hill mine in Yukon Territory, we began work on a comprehensive reclamation plan to remediate historical mining activities that predate Hecla’s local operations. Hecla now manages the reclamation projects and has initiated production in a way consistent with current mining standards and Hecla’s values. We also prepared for water reclamation work at the property.

Reclamation is a significant portion of our work at Lucky Friday on the tailings ponds. In 2023, we reclaimed previously disturbed areas by using the hydroseeding method, and we are preparing for future topsoiling of the site. Hydroseeding is more costly than other reclamation approaches but best stabilizes the soil to prevent erosion.

Biodiversity

Hecla’s biodiversity footprint is not restricted to our mine sites – the actions we take can extend to habitats and species that live and migrate beyond our direct operations.

As part of the permitting process, we conduct detailed studies that consider potential impacts on biodiversity and incorporate reduction and mitigation measures into project plans, as well as studying and monitoring our impacts. We make an effort to consult with local communities and members of Indigenous Peoples for guidance and input about local species of plants and wildlife.

Workers walking by some water.

Casa Berardi Fish Habitat & Creek Diversion

To proceed with operations, Hecla Quebec had to detour the Kaackakosig Creek. The creek diversion required various authorizations from the provincial and federal governments. Throughout the permitting process, several stakeholders were solicited, including our Liaison Committee, the First Nations, and other organizations. These key stakeholders were involved in determining the actual use of the watercourse, the detour options, and the identification of compensation projects. Three compensation projects were accepted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), namely support to UQAT for the study of Lake Osisko in Rouyn-Noranda, the rehabilitation of the water link on a section of the Cadillac River located in the municipality of St-Mathieu d’Harricanna, as well as the stabilization of banks in a sector of Lake Berry.

Protecting Sensitive Species

Some Hecla operations are situated near species that require accommodations for migration or nesting. Greater sage-grouse and woodland caribou are among the neighbors we pay special attention to, along with bald eagles, other raptors, and other migratory birds.

In 2023, we conducted three raptor surveys at our Aurora, Nevada site to ensure our exploration would not encroach on nesting birds. The site has habitats for golden eagles, hawks, and owls. We survey as needed for migratory birds as well and relocate our drilling pad if we find a nest. Some of our Nevada sites are located near the breeding areas (leks) of greater sage-grouse and bi-state sage grouse, two near threatened species that are in decline primarily due to habitat loss. We perform annual surveys at those sites and seek ways to improve the greater sage-grouse’s habitat wherever possible. At our Fire Creek exploration site, Hecla developed a Greater Sage Grouse Habitat Improvement Plan in collaboration with the BLM and the grazing permittee.

Biodiversity Research in Quebec

Hecla Quebec continues to be a partner of a joint research project between the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) and Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), to host the Chair on northern biodiversity in a mining context. The mission of the project, supervised by the Industrial Research Chair, is to understand mine footprints over the mine life cycle and develop developing strategies to minimize impacts on biodiversity of plants and animal species in the northern Quebec region.

A photo of a mine-related ladder.
A bird by a stoplight.

Preserving Habitats

In northwest Montana, Hecla owns approximately 8,600 acres of land of which approximately 6,400 acres were acquired with the goal of preserving the forest and associated watersheds as habitat for wildlife such as deer, elk, moose, and endangered species such as grizzly bears. Over the past decade, we have donated approximately $500,000 to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to support a Grizzly Bear Management Specialist. We continue to make annual contributions.

Partnership to Protect At-Risk Species

In 2023, Hecla Quebec continued to participate in a partnership with the governments of two Canadian provinces (Quebec and Ontario), companies from the timber and mining industries, an environmental protection organization, two universities, and five First Nations communities. Partners collect and share data on the Detour Kesagami herd of woodland caribou, an at-risk species. The approach aims to integrate traditional knowledge in woodland caribou habitat management and mitigation of cumulative land impacts. Hecla contributes financially and participates in knowledge-sharing activities to support the Caribou Index, which will benefit its local biodiversity management plan.

Fish ladder at Greens Creek site, established to enhance the local fish habitat