Mine Reclamation Conference adapts to the times with light-hearted virtual program

For the past nine years, watershed groups around the San Juan Mountains have found common ground with company leaders and contractors who regularly attended the San Juan Mining and Reclamation Conference. Stakeholders from around mining communities, who share in the benefits of innovations and collaborations resulting from the annual event, will return once again for the 10th annual conference on Sept. 21, 22 and 23.

“This conference is a catalyst for innovative ideas and important collaborations between scientists, regulators and citizens in mining communities. When we had to pivot to a virtual platform this year, we realized we had to keep the heart of the conference intact, and create an online gathering that continued to spark the creativity and camaraderie of our diverse audience,” said Mountain Studies Institute Executive Director Marcie Bidwell, a member of the conference committee.

Reflecting the 2020 conference theme, “Adaptive Capacity in Uncertain Times,” the program is pared down to two action-packed, virtual morning sessions, two in-person field tours, and one fun, online happy hour. the conference sessions can be attended from offices and homes anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

A popular emcee at watershed events around the state, Anthony Poponi will keep the program moving smoothly and undoubtedly add many laughs, as he moderates all online events this year. Known as a “funnyman and watershed science geek,” Poponi will keep the atmosphere light as well as challenge conference goers with mine reclamation trivia with correct guesses winning prizes.

Briana Greer of Solid Solution Geosciences is a regular conference attendee who consults on mining geochemistry, water quality sampling and modeling, and mine permitting in the San Juan Mountains and beyond. Greer decided to volunteer with the conference committee this year, to help ensure the conference experience remains valuable to her colleagues.

“I’m excited about the keynote talk by Chris Caskey of Delta Brick & Climate. The company is a great example of entrepreneurship and rethinking the value of waste. He’s also a fun guy who is passionate about his work and sharing ideas,” she said.

Caskey will give his keynote on Monday, Sept. 21 at the Welcome Happy Hour. The late afternoon event will also include games and music by You Knew Me When, a musical duo from Ouray who just released an album entitled “Songs of the San Juans.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 22 morning, three short presentations and one panel discussion will focus on adaptive capacity, with thought-provoking discussions of how the mining and reclamation community can plan for success in an uncertain world. Presenters and panelists will share experiences and insights about approaches to adaptive management and risk assessment. They will give real-world examples of how to respond to changing conditions, pivot to take advantage of trends, and adapt effectively to disruptions in dynamic times, marked by shifting global markets, pandemics and climate change.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23 morning, three more short presentations and another panel discussion will focus on changing water quality regulations. Both mornings will include more games, music and interviews with companies involved in mining, reclamation and water studies in the San Juan Mountains.

On Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, in-person field tours will be offered to conference registrants who are in the Ouray-Telluride area. Newmont Mining will host both guided tours, one at the Idarado Mine Bulkhead in Telluride and the other at the Idarado historic site on Red Mountain Pass.

The San Juan Mining & Reclamation Conference is organized by Mountain Studies Institute, San Miguel Watershed Coalition, Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership, and Headwaters Alliance. This year’s event is sponsored by CDM Smith, Heritage Environmental Services, Ouray Silver Mines, and SLR, as well as ACZ Laboratories, HDR and Linkan Engineering. For information and to register, go to http://www.mountainstudies.org/sjmrc.