Southern Ionics Minerals may not own the land that it works, but the company treats its mining sites as if they are in its own backyard. SIM’s “Rapid Continuous Reclamation” system, unique within the mining industry, was designed to restore and replant land as a seamless step in the mining process.
SIM leases land from local landowners, assuming responsibility to return the land to pre-mine productivity. Most of the land is commercial pine plantation prior to mining, but SIM also re-establishes pasture, native woodland, wetlands, and ponds.
“We’ve built strong partnerships with the landowners because we share a common respect for the natural resources of southeast Georgia that sustain our communities,” said Jim Renner, Manager of Environmental Stewardship. “That’s why we work with the cycles of nature and with the landowners’ forest management plans to return the land to productive forestry. Mining should be only a short-term, temporary disruption.”
SIM’s mining and continuous reclamation method advances in roughly 10 acre steps: an area to be mined is cleared of trees, the topsoil is stripped and stockpiled, the active mine pit is opened, and the quartz sand from the active pit that is rejected at the wet mill is returned to the pit that was mined the previous month. By the time the active pit is fully excavated, the previous pit will have been refilled with tails. It is then graded, the topsoil is replaced and tree seedlings are replanted during the next January. In this manner, clearing, mining, and reclamation is a continuously advancing process that leaves the smallest possible disturbed footprint.
A key to successful reclamation is stripping and stockpiling the topsoil. When the topsoil is returned, it brings with it a wealth of seeds, roots, microbes, and nutrients that re-establish the native understory and avoid the need for excessive fertilizing