Built back in 1889, during Washington State’s short-lived mining boom, the Pride of the Woods mine was abandoned by the 1920s, leaving behind mine tailings laden with toxic metals like arsenic and lead. These tailings had been leaching into the soil and nearby groundwater, posing serious health and environmental threats to both man and nature.
It fell to the U.S. Forest Service to handle reclamation for this mine and other abandoned sites in the area. While other sites had access roads to allow for more conventional clean-up, the Pride of the Woods was unique. Located in the pristine Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Area, no road had ever been built and none would be permitted–not even for this project.
The challenge in getting Pride of the Woods mine cleaned up became two-fold: how to remove environmental waste without altering the existing environmental footprint in order to protect delicate eco-systems, endangered species, and cultural and historical artifacts.
It was decided that fly-in helicopters would be used. The Oregon-based company, Columbia Helicopters, was hired to bring in excavators and buckets. The plan was for the excavators to dig out the contaminated rocks and soil and dump them into the bins, which were then flown out and taken to a nearby repository for safe storage.
“It was definitely a challenge,” said Dave Horrax, Project Manager with Columbia Helicopters. While Columbia Helicopters could have used their own homemade bins or fill sacs, Horrax noted that they were difficult to load, and they had to be manually hooked up every time. He added, “We also needed to be sure that whatever product was used would be able to withstand heavy loads and extremely rough terrain.”
“I found the Boscaro self-dumping bins online through Bigfoot Crane Company,” Horrax said. “And since I knew up front what my weight limitations were, I was able to find the bin that I needed.”
Horrax ordered three A-200D Boscaro Self-Dumping Bins: two alternated between load and transit while one was kept in reserve.
About two thousand cubic yards of waste rock – 887 total bin loads – was removed during the site clean-up. The project took 12 days and actually required less time than originally planned, due in large part to the efficiency of the Boscaro bins. The mechanical arm on each bin allowed for easy hook-up and earned some serious respect from the helicopter pilots.
“The bins worked flawlessly from beginning to end,” said Horrax. “Plus, they’re so well-made. They stood up to pretty much everything we put them through.”
For Horrax and the whole crew, the best part was that the site clean-up was done with minimal environmental impact.
“I’ll definitely be using the Boscaro bins again,” he concluded, “and I’ll be recommending them to others.”
To read the full Self Dumping Bin Assist Mine Clean Up case study, click here.
For more information about Boscaro Self Dumping Bins, click here.