DEQ awards annual non-coal reclamation award to Little Missouri River Mine

By Kimberly Mazza

DEQ presents the Excellence in Mining Reclamation Awards to Wyoming coal and noncoal mine operators who demonstrate an achievement in a specific aspect of mine reclamation or for overall performance in meeting reclamation goals.

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently awarded the 2023 Excellence in Mining Reclamation Award for non-coal to Little Missouri River Mine for their efforts in developing a bat box program to help improve foraging habitat for several bat species.  

The Little Missouri River Mine is a bentonite mine operated by American Colloid Company (ACC).  Their mine permit area encompasses 20,029 acres and is located in northern Crook County in northeastern Wyoming. 

Jonathan Madill, Supervisor of Environmental Affairs for ACC, said, “It’s a priority for ACC to be good stewards of the land and wildlife where we operate. Through our bat box program, we hope to support the habitat that this critical species needs to thrive.  It is an honor to be recognized for our work by receiving the 2022 Reclamation Award from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.”

ACC is recognized for their efforts developing a bat box program to help improve bat habitat in bentonite mining areas. Bats are important pollinators and seed dispersers.  Bats are also known to consume large quantities of insects, including crop pests and disease-carrying mosquitoes. 

ACC voluntarily installed bat boxes in Northern Crook County which has important foraging habitat for several bat species.  The boxes mimic natural roosting sites such as tree cavities and rock cervices and will help mitigate roosting habitat loss. 

Matt Kunze, Natural Resources Program Supervisor, said, “This project is a good example of a proactive approach to improve wildlife habitat in and near mining areas.”  “The Land Quality Division looks forward to seeing this project progress and expand at ACC’s other bentonite mining operations in Wyoming.”

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