/ Modified mar 21, 2024 4:24 p.m.

Federal government allocates $475 million for clean energy projects on mine lands nationwide

The Morenci and Safford copper mines will recieve some of the funding.

Morenci Mine One of the pits at the Morenci Mine in eastern Arizona, which has one one of the largest copper reserves in the United States.
TJ Blackwell/Wikicommons

The Department of Energy (DOE) is investing up to $475 million into five clean energy projects on both current and former mine lands throughout the country.

These projects spanning Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia, encompass a diverse array of clean energy technologies such as solar, geothermal, pumped storage hydropower, battery energy solar systems, and microgrids.

In the western region, two projects aim to reduce fossil-fuel dependency by transitioning towards net-zero mining operations.

The three projects located on former Appalachian coal mine lands focus on fostering workforce development and economic revitalization in areas where traditional use is no longer feasible.

In Arizona, two projects will integrate direct-use geothermal clean heat with a battery storage system at two active Morenci and Safford copper mines in the southeast region of the state.

The initiative is supposed to decrease the mines’ reliance on onsite thermal backup generators.

David Turk, deputy secretary with the DOE, emphasizes the potential for active mine sites to be more productive and environmentally sustainable if they are powered by clean energy.

“Two copper mines in Graham and Greenlee Counties are investing in a geothermal and battery storage project that will increase copper recovery by 25 million pounds annually,” Turk said. “That’s a 40% increase.”

Freeport Minerals Corporation, a subsidiary of Freeport McMoRan headquartered in Phoenix, operates the two Arizona mines.

They anticipate creating 121 construction and operations jobs and pledge to provide scholarships for up to 300 Native American students from 14 tribes.

Overall the DOE foresees the creation of over 3,000 jobs in construction and operations as a direct outcome from these investments.

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