Replenishing the Environment
Mining for lignite coal has been a part of the Rockdale area since the early 1900s, although Alcoa's use of these resources did not begin until nearly a half-century later. It was the rich supply of lignite as a fuel source for generating electricity to run an aluminum smelting plant that first attracted Alcoa to this part of Texas.
Surface mining presents its own set of challenges for the community and the environment. As a member of that community, Alcoa recognizes its responsibility in re-establishing the natural habitats and the ecosystem that is disrupted during mining.
Alcoa has been nationally recognized as a leader in the reclamation of surface-mined land. As winner of the 1998 Excellence in Surface Mining Reclamation Awards from the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the agency's prestigious "Best of the Best" award, the Alcoa Sandow Mine sets the standard for environmental protection and land reclamation.
In reclaiming post-mined land, Alcoa engineers and environmental specialists have developed techniques that don't just restore the land to its original state, but enrich it. The company takes pride in making the reclaimed land rich and fertile, with abundant wildlife, wetland areas, legumes, pastureland, native grasses and trees. Since 1980, Alcoa Rockdale Operations has reclaimed more than 5,000 acres of land that can be used for a number of purposes, including farming and recreation.
Our efforts on behalf of the environment include:
- Creating conditions that attract a greater population of wild animals, birds and insects than in the surrounding, unmined areas.
- In partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, has helped to boost the wild turkey population in Central Texas by introducing both the Rio Grande and Eastern sub-species of the birds to the site.
- Stocking man-made lakes with fish in an effort to bolster the food chain and increase land productivity.
- Introduced several hundred hives of honeybees to naturally enhance legume reproduction.
- Major re-forestation has seen the planting of approximately half a million trees of more than 30 different species, including black walnut, pecan, shumard oak, bur oak and live oak.
- An aggressive re-vegetation program that annually plants millets and a variety of grasses and clover for additional animal food resources.