Freeport-McMoRan Inc.

Chino/Cobre

Vanadium, New Mexico, United States

Certified Silver through 2023

Project Name
Project Type
Invasive species management
Invasive Species
Expanding Your Horizons Workshop
Awareness & Community Engagement
Agave Salvage & Education Project
Awareness & Community Engagement
About the Program
Freeport-McMoran Inc.’s Chino/Cobre's program facilities are located east of Silver City in rural New Mexico. The site consists of 120,847 acres that includes active copper mining operations and 3,000 acres of native grassland and shrubland habitat. The team actively manages and monitors for invasive species on 20,400 acres. The area is a typical grassland for this part of New Mexico, with grasses, shrubs, and forbs, and common wildlife like jack rabbits, squirrel, dear, javelina, snakes and various bird species. Occasionally bears and mountain lions are also spotted. The grassland is located about 9 miles from the active mine area and is not impacted by the mine operations. The team promotes education and awareness about the importance of agave plants to bat pollinators, while also respecting the cultural heritage of FCX's Tribal partners. Through the Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) project girls explore careers in STEM and learn about the importance of healthy soils to support a healthy habitat, which in turn, attracts a diversity of native wildlife.

Practices and Impacts
  • From plant surveys within the grassland, the team maps the location of the invasive plant species – particularly salt cedar, African rue, Siberian elm, and tree of heaven. The team  at Chino uses foliar spray and basal treatment of herbicide to control salt cedar and African rue, and has also had some success with physical control methods. The teams Vegetative Management Plan guides management that is performed ever year to eliminate existing invasive species and to prevent their spread on Chino’s property. Chino documents the effectiveness of treatment methods by determining the mortality rate of the invasive species and uses this information to inform future management.
  • In 2019, Chino collaborated with a number of partners including Bat Conservation International (BCI), Gila Watershed Partnership (GWP), Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to salvage over 700 Agave parryi that would otherwise be lost to mining activities. For Chino employees who participated in the salvage activity, it was an opportunity to learn about the broader conservation value of the species. Chino staff donated many of these agaves to local community & Tribal partners and replanted others in their own reclamation areas. The addition of agaves species on Chino's reclamation areas added species diversity and enhanced habitat for bats and other wildlife species.
  • Similarly, since completing the Chino agave salvage in 2019, staff have incorporated the conservation story of bats and agaves as part of the annual environmental training that is provided to over 600 employees.
  • The team lead a Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) workshop, a national STEM event that encourages girls to explore careers in STEM. The event was a full day workshop that rotated girls between three 1-hour long learning stations (all focused on STEM topics). The FCX's station: “An Exploration of Mine Reclamation, Soil Science & Wildlife Habitat ," taught the girls about FCX’s reclamation efforts and how returning land back to natural habitat after mining activities are complete. The girls also learned how to conduct soil tests, interpret the results, and evaluate soil health.

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