BUSINESS: Native Environmental
IN BUSINESS SINCE: 2000
LOCATION: Phoenix and Globe, Arizona
DOOSAN MACHINE: DX350LC-5 crawler excavators (two), DL420-3 wheel loader
Copper is one of the most common metals found in homes, businesses, e11en your smartphone. More than half of the U.S. copper output comes from Arizona mines. When mines need earthwork projects completed, they turn to companies like Native Environmental.
Native Environmental is led by Kimberley Riggs and has approximately SO employees. It was founded in 2000 and has grown in the past 20 years to include offices in Phoenix and Globe, Arizona. The company completes approximately 300 projects each year.
"When a mine is required to expand or maintain their facility, they look to offsite contractors to come in and devote their resources to these special projects," says Chad Cecil, a senior project manager at Native Environmental. "That's the kind of niche that we’re in. We’ll come in and build something to assist them in their extraction process. We are unique because we already meet the requirements to work on mine sites.”
Chad oversees Native Environmental’s mining projects, including providing the necessary equipment to perform construction tasks. He has more than 20 years of experience managing construction projects and regularly travels to mine sites around the state to meet with customers and supervise construction projects. Native Environmental’s mining division performs heavy industrial and civil work.
“We will go in and do all the heavy earth work, grading and roadway construction,” Chad says. “We’ve also done roadway construction where they’re doing test drilling for future expansion. We do heavy civil work where we’ll do loading haul to build the cofferdams for their tailings and disposal piles.”
On a project in 2018, through the extraction process, a mine had a lot of overflow water that was recirculated and reused. Eventually sediment accumulated in the settling ponds, and the mine hired Native Environmental to clean out the sediment deposits and haul them to a waste disposal field.
Another example of the company’s mine support services includes increasing the size of cofferdams – structures that help hold a mine’s tailings in place so the mine can continue processing them. Native Environmental uses Doosan® crawler excavators to load material into articulated dump trucks to increase the cofferdam size.
In June 2019, Native Environmental operated a Doosan DX350LC-5 excavator and a DL420-3 wheel loader in combination at a mine site near Miami, Arizona. The equipment aided in the construction of a tailing processing facility for a copper mine.
“The project duration was three months,” Chad says. “We built a 16-foot tall by 100-foot wide pad for a cyclone skid, and we used the equipment to excavate and place the material for pad construction. We have also excavated several trenches to place high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe that feeds the skid.”
According to Chad, the cyclone takes a tailing slurry – a mixture of tailing sand and water – and separates the liquids from the solids through water pressure and a spinning process.
“The solids are shot out one end of the nozzle onto a pad for accumulation, and the liquids are piped into a distribution box for reuse,” Chad explains. “There are approximately six of these cyclone nozzles mounted on a skid atop a concrete pad.”
Further demonstrating the versatility of the Doosan equipment, Chad says the company has operated the excavator and wheel loader combination to construct
haul truck fuel stations, build cofferdams, clean settling ponds and construct new exploration roads for Arizona copper mines.
“At the mine sites, everything is required to have a 6-foot berm adjacent to the haul road,” Chad says. “We use the heavy equipment to build those berms quite often.”
The Doosan DX350LC-5 crawler excavators come with a hydraulic quick coupler to easily transition between trenching buckets – 36 to 54 inches – or a hydraulic breaker. With Arizona’s tough soil conditions, buckets are paired with teeth to excavate the dirt. In hard rock areas, operators transition to the breaker to help crack the soil.
“The DX350LC-5 is the right size to do the jobs we need it to and to go from job to job cost-effectively,” Chad says. “We can get it on a trailer and move it without escorts.”
Native Environmental secured the equipment through the local Doosan equipment dealer at its Phoenix location, which is only about a mile from Native Environmental’s corporate office.
“It’s been a long relationship with the local dealer,” Chad says. “We’ve been working with the dealer since the inception of Native Environmental in 2000.”
During the company’s early years, Native Environmental relied on the dealer to provide it with vacuum excavators. When the dealer added Doosan construction equipment, the dealer persuaded Native Environmental employees to demo the machines. Any initial concerns about a brand they’d never heard of quickly disappeared once the Doosan machines were working.
“There is always concern with the unfamiliar,” Chad says. “Our salesman was instrumental in giving us the opportunity to alleviate the concerns that we had. Now, the dealer covers all our needs from the smallest excavator to a large one.”
For example, when Native Environmental needed to demolish a building for a copper mine, Chad rented a DX140LCR-5 from the dealership. He also used it for a large asbestos pipe removal project. Unlike larger crawler excavators, the DX140LCR-5 had a dozer blade on it. The dozer blade added stability and assisted in the machine’s breakout force.
“In trench backfilling, you’re able to basically go through and backfill and final-grade the entire site with one piece of equipment,” Chad says. “It’s as smooth as you can get; it’s very handy.”
Focus on Safety
Performing construction work on or near mine sites requires additional safety training. Native Environmental employees who operate heavy equipment are required to be MSHA-certified.
“Every site we go to, we go through a site-specific training,” Chad Cecil says. “Training is required for every piece of equipment that we get on. There are a lot of safety compliance items that you must be able to secure and comply with in order to do the work – it is specialized in that sense.”
A rearview camera mounted to the crawler excavator is advantageous for operators working on mine sites.
“You’re operating in tight quarters,” Chad says. “You can see where your tail swing’s coming, and it helps minimize damage to the equipment because you can see how clear you are for your tail swing. And it goes without saying how much more it increases the safety when backing up.”