San Juan Mining & Reclamation Conference

10th Annual: “Adaptive Capacity during Uncertain Times” Sept. 21-23, 2020 | Virtual

Conference Information

Miners and mining communities are no strangers to challenge and changing conditions. The year of 2020 has brought with it a series of challenges and opportunities. As a result, the San Juan Mining & Reclamation Conference (SJMRC) theme is “Adaptive Capacity in Uncertain Times” to encourage discussions of how the mining and reclamation community can plan for success in an uncertain world.

From global markets to pandemics and climate, change is the only certain constant. We seek to learn from the experiences and insights of those with approaches to adaptive management and risk assessment that respond to changing conditions and pivot to take advantage of current and future trends. We are interested in discussing trend outlooks, best practices, and solutions from the perspective of adaptation and pivoting to respond effectively to disruptions in dynamic times.


9th Annual: “Changing Approaches” Sept. 24-26, 2019 | Silverton, CO

Conference Presentation Videos

Welcome to the 9th annual San Juan Mining and Reclamation Conference and the 3rd Annual Innovation Expo. The events have been combined this year as they were both scheduled to be in Silverton. The events will focus on Changing Approaches in both mining and reclamation. Some of these changes are happening organically, some are planned locally, and some come from external sources outside of local control. Modern mining began in the San Juan Mountains nearly 150 years ago. Reclamation plans for active mines have been required for 40 years, and remediation of abandoned and inactive historic mines has been ongoing for over 25 years. Much has been learned and changes have occurred. Now is a good time to identify what those changes are or could be, and consider different approaches towards mining and reclamation.


8th Annual: “Planning for Resiliency” May 2-4, 2018 | Creede, CO

Conference Presentation Videos

A long-range view is necessary to build resilient communities and organizations, especially in today’s economy. Times of plenty make it easy to carry on with business as usual. However, disruptive events can impede operations and hinder progress for many years, shifting resources to recovery efforts and away from fundamental objectives. Realizing that very few disasters are completely unexpected or sudden, but rather predictable potentialities with long-term causes, we can proactively design and implement projects to avoid major setbacks and reduce negative consequences. In mining and reclamation, disruption is often tied to catastrophic environmental events, price fluctuations, shifting regulatory priorities and reduced funding, as well as human error.

The theme for the 2018 San Juan Mining & Reclamation Conference, “Planning for Resiliency”, encourages discussions of how the mining and reclamation community can plan for potential disasters. We seek to learn from the experiences and insights of those with approaches to crisis management that weigh the impacts to society, the economy and the environment. We are interested in discussing best practices and solutions from the perspective of how focusing on this triple bottom line effects project development and long-range planning. We invite bold and frank conversations about topics that have challenged you, may be considered taboo, or can be uncomfortable to share. Through sharing useful information about these topics, the 8th annual San Juan Mining & Reclamation Conference (May 2-4, 2018) aims to create a productive forum with helpful takeaways and more innovative projects. We welcome you to join us for another opportunity of sharing and networking


7th Annual: “Coming Full Circle: Making a Difference and Forging Ahead” May 23-26, 2017 | Ouray, CO

Conference Presentation Videos

The San Juan Mining and Reclamation Conference made a full tour through the mining communities of southwestern Colorado over the past six years. After stops in Silverton, Lake City, Creede, Telluride, and Durango, the event returns to Ouray in 2017. The conference has featured presentations and discussions about the history and heritage of mining in the San Juan Mountains, contemporary hardrock mining practices, alternative remediation approaches to legacy mining impacts, and the regulatory frameworks for both. Now is the time to come full circle to examine lessons learned from reclamation projects across the region, how they are making a difference environmentally, and what reclamation will look like in the future. We have the opportunity to consider how industry in the region has utilized innovative mining technologies and environmental mitigation plans to energize hardrock mining in the San Juans.

In its seventh year, the conference will highlight projects and mining in the Uncompahgre Watershed. We will field-tour Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership’s tailings stabilization project, Ouray Silver Mine’s mining operations, and mitigation designs in the Canyon Creek sub-basin, as well as Idarado’s past and proposed remediation projects in the Red Mountain Creek sub-basin. Diverse stakeholders will have opportunities to examine and discuss successes of mining and reclamation to date, as well as contemplate their futures in this region.


6th Annual: “Developing Innovative Responses to the Legacy of Mining” Aug. 3-5, 2016 | Durango, CO

The legacy of mining in the San Juan Mountains is stitched into the fabric of our communities today. The metal-laden rocks that form this unique corridor of the Rocky Mountains provided economic opportunities that attracted people to take residence in this harsh environment and build lifestyles that centered on extracting minerals from the mountains. Society’s dependence on these natural resources has created environmental consequences that impact the quality of life and health throughout our local watersheds. In August 2015, the residents of San Juan and La Plata counties in Colorado and downstream neighbors in New Mexico watched in dismay as the Animas River – considered the life blood of their communities – turned orange as millions of gallons of toxic heavy metal-laden mine waste flowed down from an accidental mine adit breach at the defunct Gold King Mine in Silverton. This incident, which gained prolonged international attention, served as a reminder of the unaddressed environmental impacts left by mining and need for remediation throughout the San Juan Mountains. We were also reminded of the necessity to assess how and where heavy metal contamination is threatening healthy ecosystems so we understand how to preserve and improve water quality and supply. In its sixth year, the 2016 San Juan Mining and Reclamation Conference will continue to build on the shared understanding of the impacts of our local mining history. This year’s conference will consider the Gold King Mine spill to understand how mine disturbances affect our communities, especially our water resources, and ways to engage stakeholders to prepare and implement innovative responses. There will be opportunities to discuss, educate and collaborate on the importance of maintaining a balance between mineral extraction practices and their effects on water systems and other natural resources. Join us for a daylong conference near Durango on August 4th and field trips into the Durango and Silverton mining districts on August 5th to observe the anniversary of the Gold King Mine incident with networking and learning about the nexus between mining and water resources and positive ways for our communities in southwest Colorado to prepare and respond.


5th Annual: “Evolution of Society, Mining and Reclamation” May 28-29, 2015 | Telluride – Mountain Village, CO

Conference Presentation Videos (scroll to bottom of page)

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Evolution is a dynamic process.  Just as our Earth has changed from its origins, so too, has Society and its demand for natural resources.

Millions of years ago, the San Juan Mountain region was covered by an ocean.  The sediments deposited in that environment remained as the oceans drained to form the sandstone canyon walls and red rock rims around us.   Areas of lush vegetation, subsequently buried, formed coal beds.  Paleo-rivers dried up, leaving radioactive residues in place.  Mountains intruded upon the landscape, extruding molten rock and minerals from deep within the earth.

Society has depended on natural resources for almost everything, from its inception through the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Industrial Age, continuing today, the Information Age.  The nomenclature itself indicates the reliance on earthen materials.

“If you can’t grow it, you have to mine it.”  Mining, too, has evolved with the needs of society and technological advances.  Reclamation of mining disturbances developed as the impacts of ore extraction and waste deposition to public health and the environment began to be understood.

The 2015 San Juan Mining and Reclamation Conference will explore the legacy and future of mining in the San Miguel Watershed, focusing on the hard rock gold and silver mines in the upper basins, coal on the mesas and uranium/vanadium operations in the desert reaches.  Come join us for field trips in Telluride mining district, Nucla coal fields, and Uravan uranium sites on May 28 and a day-long conference in Telluride Mountain Village on May 29.