Water

Water is necessary for the mining process, and we are committed to being responsible stewards of this critical natural resource to avoid straining supply for local communities.

Water Management

During all phases of the mine life cycle, our operations have controls in place to protect water resources, and we conduct extensive and ongoing assessments that inform decision making. Comprehensive water management plans are tailored to each site to account for variations such as operation changes, mine phases, and levels of precipitation.

Water Management

Comprehensive water quality monitoring programs help ensure we meet all applicable regulatory requirements related to water.

These plans include baseline water conditions and a robust program of sampling, quality analysis, and audits. These data help us better understand usage, identify opportunities to reduce consumption, and increase recycling to reduce the associated volume of treated water to ensure that natural waters are protected.

Hecla workers discussing the water quality.

Freshwater Use & Reduction

Hecla is always focused on using water more efficiently. We continue to advance company-wide efforts to meet our goal to reduce three-year freshwater intensity usage (gallons/ metric ore milled) by 5% from the 2018 baseline year.

Freshwater use reduction

Water Recycling

Whenever possible, we recycle and reuse water for milling and processing to help offset our freshwater withdrawal.

Lucky Friday’s Zero Discharge Initiative

We have also initiated a discharge reduction strategic planning effort at Lucky Friday, the Zero Discharge Initiative, with a goal of reducing site-wide discharge by 35% in three years. The Zero Discharge Initiative is a goal established to maximize the amount of water recycled on site to meet operational needs, with the ultimate goal of reducing the amount of water diverted, treated and discharged. The site has taken incremental steps to achieve this goal and is now at the point of testing a recycle loop from the surface water treatment plant to use recycled water within the mine. Current estimates indicate that the site’s water use can be reduced by approximately 50% once the recycle loop is operational. Future Zero Discharge Initiative projects are also in development to further reduce the site’s water use requirements.

Water Withdrawn, Recycled, & Discharged

2018

2019

2020

Withdrawn (gallons)

771,348,294

970,840,220

850,813,590

Recycled (gallons)

1,177,591,953

1,229,256,885

1,321,390,160

Discharged (gallons)

1,897,212,869

2,464,207,407

2,758,218,825

Total % Recycled

62%

50%

48%

In 2021 we recycled:

Discharged just over three times more water company-wide than we withdrew from freshwater sources

Recycled 96% of water from the Casa Berardi mine’s tailings pond

Recycled 39% of discharged water

Responsible Water Management is Critical to Hecla’s Operations and Communities