Company's Work to Restore Arizona River Flow Honored with Award

December 15, 2023

Freeport-McMoRan’s work to help ensure the continuous flow of the Verde River in central Arizona has been recognized with the Arizona Mining Association’s highest honor.

In 2022, the company completed removal of a water diversion dam originally built to support a long-closed smelter near the town of Clarkdale. This work, which enabled the river in that area to flow freely for the first time in more than a century, recently earned Freeport the AMA’s Sustainability, Preservation and Diversity in the Environment Award for reclamation.

The AMA sponsors the SPADE Award to recognize the member efforts to protect and enhance the biodiversity of Arizona. The award focuses on site actions that help preserve, reclaim or restore habitats and species.

The company’s removal of a 320-foot-long wall of corrugated steel panels driven about 20 feet into the riverbed allowed the river to return to its natural course. This work is expected to improve the area’s ecosystem, support a diverse array of wildlife, and improve recreational opportunities for the Verde Valley. Most important, the project was completed without a single safety incident. 

“It’s important that we are taking meaningful actions to protect the environment near our legacy sites,” said Francis McAllister, Vice President, Liability Management and Land and Water for Freeport and Chairman of the Arizona Mining Association. “The SPADE Award is recognition of our team’s work to help restore the flow of the Verde River, and our overall commitment to supporting the environment.”

This year’s SPADE Award is the fourth such honor for a company site. Last year, Morenci was honored for its work to protect Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep that inhabit the ecosystem near the stie. In 2018, Morenci was recognized for its role in protecting some 1.5 million bats roosting in nearby areas as well as for conservation education outreach in the community. In 2017, Safford was honored for its owl-protection program that resulted in the construction of 100 burrows in a cotton field east of Safford, the relocation of about 16 owls to those burrows and support for ongoing maintenance.

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