Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cutting light pollution from mines

I heard last week that Rosemont Copper was developing a plan to use LED lighting for its proposed copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains, instead of the conventional sodium lighting, to reduce light pollution that affects the region's astronomical observatories. Company officials sounded pretty excited. This afternoon, Rosemont put out an announcement saying they have contracted with local company Monrad Engineering to design and install such a system. They note that company president Chris Monrad is the former president of Tucson-based International Dark Skies Association, whose mission is to “preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting.” The Monrad report concludes that "The result is expected to be a lighting installation that generates about 10-15% of the amount of environmental light that ...would normally be allowed by a similar commercial development of the same scale in the same location using conventional lighting systems on a similarly sized parcel." [Right, narrow-band amber LED. Credit, Monrad Engineering]

This topic came up at the Holbrook town hall a few weeks ago, during a Q&A session about the proposed underground potash mine proposed in that area. American West Potash CEO Pat Avery told the audience that they also are looking into low impact lighting for their operations.

The use of these lighting systems in Arizona could help establish new standards for mining operations nationwide and worldwide.

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