"The changing regulatory environment, pressure to streamline the permitting process, and significant investment coming into the state are all driving real-time planning, creative strategies, and good organization."
Please introduce Forsgren Associates and the services you offer the mining industry?
We are a civil engineering company, and we help mines with the civil infrastructure that is integral to their operations. As far as mining is concerned we are focused on Nevada, though we provide mining services throughout the Western U.S., including mine reclamation work in California.
Mines are like small cities: they need water, wastewater, roads, and bridges. This is where we come in. In addition to engineering, we provide planning and project management support services to help our clients make informed decisions. We also provide construction services to help our clients build their infrastructure. And lastly, we provide environmental services, from permitting to environmental compliance and eventually reclamation.
Can you expand on your projects in Nevada?
We recently completed engineering and construction management for a large dewatering project that included a 12-mile pipeline with a pump station, moving water from one basin, crossing a mountain, and discharging the water into rapid infiltration basins for percolation back into the groundwater. We routinely provide planning, scheduling, and permitting services for exploration and development projects, including mapping and calculations for reclamation bonds that will be needed on the back end. Overall, I would say that most of our work is related to water management - anything related to dewatering, drinking water, wastewater, and water supply.
To what extent does Forsgren intervene at the environmental stage?
We focus on environmental assessments for exploration and mine expansion projects. Developing and maintaining good working relationships with regulatory agencies has been critical to our success. We typically encourage our clients to engage with the regulatory agencies early in a project and therefore avoid going down the wrong path – saving both time and money. We work diligently with all stakeholders from the early stages to build trust and work together as a team.
What challenges do mining firms face in Nevada?
There is a lot of work to be done in terms of water management. The mining industry is doing a good job engaging with the communities they work in, and with their partners throughout the supply chain. A lot of the water rights are over-appropriated in Nevada, so there isn’t an infinite supply of that resources. With the mines, water is usually present where you don’t want it, absent where you need it, and difficult to move from one place to the other.
The whole industry is feeling the labor shortage, and I am acutely aware of it due to my involvement with the NVMA. As the Chair of the Suppliers Committee, I’m engaged with supply chain people throughout the industry, and I see the pinch everywhere. And with the projected demand for green energy metals, it will only get worse. Attracting talent revolves around education, outreach to the communities, and working with schools. We need to plan to have the workforce we’ll need years down the road.
What opportunities do you see for Nevada in terms of providing materials to feed the green transition?
Nevada is a key player in leading the green economy charge. There’s a lot of activity right now to try and develop projects that will supply the needed lithium and other raw materials and complement the infrastructure already in place to produce the EVs and other aspects of the energy transition. However, net-zero goals are aggressive. The demand for raw materials is heavy, and I’m not sure that decision-makers at the higher levels understand what is required to make it happen. There is a little disconnect there, but conversations are happening, and understanding will come.
What service will drive growth for Forsgren in the coming years?
In the context of mining, two areas are mainly water and project management. We’re seeing a steady increase in demand for our mine water management services: we have new drinking water and dewatering projects coming online now. Regarding project management, we are entering new territory with lithium and other green energy minerals projects. The changing regulatory environment, pressure to streamline the permitting process, and significant investment coming into the state are all driving real-time planning, creative strategies, and good organization. This dynamic is already driving growth for Forsgren.