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Goldcorp has announced that it will seek to involve more women in mining.  That is admirable.  Here are some of my stories of women in mining.

The bravest woman in mining I met was but twenty-eight.  She was beautiful and bold.  She drove a large truck at a large mine.  I had spent two years testing the idea that if we let the tailings freeze, then placed a geogrid, a geotextile, and a layer of light-weight coke,  we could ride out  over this floating cover.  I did all the calculations possible.  I tested materials in the lab.  I did trial runs.  Eventually the fateful day arrived–let us drive a large truck out and see if the predicted one-meter deformation was correct.

None of the male drivers would volunteer.  Even though the young twenty-year old bragged about high speeds on highways in his convertible.

She demurely said: “If you will come with me, I will try.”

I sat her and her male colleagues down and explained what I believed would happen: the cover would deform and we would see the level of the tailings aligned with the truck windows.  They all blanched.  But we persuaded the health & safety folk to stand by on the shore, ready with equipment to pull us out if I were wrong.  All her colleagues stood by on the shore as well.

Needless to tell the drive was without incident.  All went as calculated and predicted.  She drove with precision and verve.  I was nervous but simulated calm.  I did not like seeing the road sink, the coke bulge, the tailings ooze, the people in anxious, but expectant observation.  She did it, and we returned to shore and general acclaim.  She will always be my hero and heroine.

Another lady truck driver thereafter offered to take me around the mine in her bigger truck.  I did, although I am sure we broke a few rules doing so.  But she drove so gently and was so friendly, who could resist.

At the upcoming conference Mine Water Solutions to be held in Vancouver April 12 and following, Lisa Wade of Goldcorp will give a keynote speech on Goldcorp’s Water Stewardship Strategy.  I will be there—for Lisa is another of my heroes/heroines.  She epitomizes the best of the best.  Enough said–come if only to hear her.  It will be a seminal event.

Those who have read this blog for a long time probably know that my eldest daughter is involved in mining.  Now she works for Geo-logic.  Two weeks hence I will be with her at the Escobal Mine in Guatemala to observe the dry stack—for she did most of the detailed engineering and now is time to peer review its status a year after start-up.

I have written many postings on this blog about women in mining.  No need to repeat what I have previously said.  A summary is this:  I have worked for and consulted to many women in mining.  And still am doing so.  They are without fail great to work for.  There is a tender, gentle toughness that males do not have.  Plus they are far more intelligent than their male counterparts.  It is fun and a challenge to get them the deliverables they need, want, and demand.

Thus I know that Goldcorp is doing the right thing.  We applaud them, even though their recent announcement makes it even more frustrating that I cannot invest in them because of work for them and these blog postings.

Simple: if you are a qualified woman seeking to work in mining, seek out Goldcorp.  You will do well, I am sure.  Let me know how it goes.

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As a US taxpayer I am at loss to understand how $1 million dollars can be sent to Peru to deal with illegal mining.  Here is a link to one report on the US taxpayer-funded largesse.  The report notes:

The U.S. Department of State awarded US$1 million to the Blacksmith Institute to work with Peru’s Ministry of Environment (Minam) to reduce the use of mercury and design remediation plans in Madre de Dios and Puno, it was announced today.

The United States believes it is crucial to support the Peruvian government strategy to combat illegal mining and reduce mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

Where is the Tea Party when we need them?   Have they nothing to say about this blatant waste of money to support a lousy government unable to manage it own affairs?  The only explanation I can come up with is that somebody related to somebody or indebted to somebody has managed to arrange this and is being paid a considerable percentage of the funds.  Smells rank & corrupt to me. (more…)

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Another sad story of underfunded mine closure.  According to this report, Yukon Zinc owes the territorial government $3 million in environmental security.  Now the company is bankrupt and also owing $646 million to hundreds of creditors. The tailings management system is described in a report at this link.  The system is described thus: (more…)

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The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) has announced that they are convening a panel to ” review its tailings management requirements to ensure failures, such as the one registered at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley open pit copper and gold mine, can be prevented.” (more…)

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Here is the link to the new report Lower Athabasca Region Tailings Management Framework for the Mineable Athabasca Oil Sands.  In some fifty pages it sets out a new way of dealings with oil sands tailings.  Lots of detail yet not much detail. The document sets itself these goals: (more…)

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There are so many obvious comments on this story, that I refrain from comment.  The story tells its own story and carries it own implications loud enough. I refer to the story at many links.  This one says: “Los Palambres was also hit this week by a court ruling that it should demolish a mine tailings dam which protesters say is affecting water availability.” Another report says: “As a consequence Los Pelambres must destroy part, or all, of the tailings dam wall.” A more complete picture emerges from this report: (more…)

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Here is a comment posted on a recent blog item:

Jack,

I have been following your blog since the Mt Polley incident.

I am not sure if you have seen the design yet for the proposed copper project located in the Thompson River Watershed near Vavenby. Here is the link to the Knight Piesold report Appendix 3E. http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/epic/html/deploy/epic_document_333_38590.html

You will have to click on Appendix 3-E to download the PDF.

It looks like they are submerging PAG which results in a huge amount of water storage ( see attached document which shows the supernatant pond volume increasing every year; similar to Mt Polley). Let us hope they have their water quality model correct otherwise it will be a large treatment plant at the end of the life of mine.

Thought you might be interested in seeing what the BC regulators are being presented with even after the Mt Polley disaster. Will industry change to a more conservative approach to tailings designs?

Enjoy your musings.

I went to the site recommended and downloaded the Executive Summary, the section on Geochemistry, and the section on Closure.  Fascinating writings, particularly coming post-Mt Polley.  I hope some readers of this blog take a look at the report and comment.  For this is a public posting of design documents–worthy of repetition.  Now it remains to be seen if such public posting leads to public reading and comment.  For that, afterall, is the purpose of such public posting of designs for new mines and their tailings facilities.

I note that the closure cost estimate is some $16 M.  Presumably that is the basis of the bond being posted?  Comments on its sufficiency would be of interest.  As would comments on the way they plan to deal with acid generating tailings. As would comments on the above comment/question as to whether this is a more conservative design than Mt Polley.

I have not read in sufficient detail to comment with insight.  And maybe no other BC engineer has any more time or inclination than I have to comment.  That is a pity, but inevitable.  Is this a pointed reminder that in addition to such public postings, maybe we should have public posting of the comments by an Independent Tailings Review Board as Morgenstern recommends in the Mt Polley report?  Again your perspective would be welcome.

If you find the materials at the listed site formidable, rather go to the company’s website at this link.   It seems not to have been updated since 2013.  So the BC regulators are faster and more  up-to-date in their posting.

In the current mining downturn, these numbers are impressive:

The project is expected to employ up to 430 hourly and staff personnel. Based on industry experience, approximately 1,000 to 1,200 jobs will be created in the surrounding communities and elsewhere within the province to provide support to the project.

No wonder the BC government is doing all it can to get the word out about the project.

(more…)

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