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Archive for the ‘Hydrology and hydraulics’ Category

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The title of this posting translates as Mine Water and Chemical Balance Analysis.  Today, EduMine posted at this link the Spanish language version of what has become a rather popular online course. (more…)

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Why pay if you can get it free?  A simple and profound question in today’s e-world where there is so much that is free and so much that is expensive.  I ask this question because I have just been alerted to a free course on groundwater modeling.  It is on the Dutch Portal for International Hydrology.  This is what they say of their course: (more…)

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There are many guidelines for groundwater modeling.  Up until now there has been nothing specific to mining.  Now that is changed.  At this link is a guidance document specific to groundwater modeling for mines.   (more…)

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   I have been entertaining my son and his family in Vancouver this week, so I resort for a blog topic to another of the fascinating e-mails that arrive from various people.  The one I write about came from a fellow who introduces himself thus in his first e-mail to me: (more…)

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  Design is the art of applying the principles of science in formulating practical solutions to real-life problems. Design is the act of coming up with a cost-effective way to build and operate a physical structure, whether it be a bridge, a building, a tailings impoundment, a heap leach pad, or an access road to the new mine.  Design is an act of creation; a good design comes seemingly out of nowhere; yet a good design comes from everywhere, being a reflection of past practice, knowledge, understanding, calculation, perspiration, inspiration, and judgment.  (more…)

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We have just posted an extended review of Best Management Practices (BMPs) in mining on InfoMine, the site that sponsors this blog.  This review started out as a discussion with a professor of mining at a local university who told me that the four pillars of mining are:

  • Theory as embodies in equations, graphs, and computer codes
  • Law & regulations, as embodied in statutes, regulations, and codes
  • Experience as embodied in books, technical papers, and guidance manuals.
  • Judgment as embodied in engineers, managers, and the expensive consultants you find on every mine.

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Critics of mining harp on two impacts: 

  • Forest or farm land turned to open pit, waste dump, or tallings pile; and/or
  • Surface and groundwater impacted by increased constituent flow from the mine.

Both are real issues.  Trying to avoid these impacts, legislator and miners have resorted to backfilling pits, backfilling underground mine workings, turning the tailings impoundment into an apple orchard, and, most interestingly in situ mining. 

In the oil sands Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) promises profit and reduced footprints. 

In uranium mining, in situ leaching is all the rage.  

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Sweeney Todd is modern grand opera.  It won Golden Globe Best Actor and Best Picture in the category musical comedy.  It is neither a musical nor a comedy.  It is grand opera.   The little old couple behind me who came expecting warbling tones and frilly dancing left in disgust.  I revelled in every note and nuance.  Forget the genius approbation on some blogs–this is the essence of opera: music, emotion, story, and spectacle. 

I know they dare not market the movie as modern opera, for that would be the kiss, or should we say cut, of death.  Who wants to see a move opera on a week night?  So they create the illusion of a dramatic musical comedy.   Afterall we all love musical comedies, don’t we?

This foray into the divide between movie/opera marketing and reality is prompted by reflections on the divide between marketing and reality that in mining is called variously a press release, a feasibility study, or an Annual Report. 

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A number of times last year, at mines all over the globe, there was an failure:  something happened on the mine and somebody died; something happened on the mine and there was an environmental impact; something happened and somebody was blamed, excoriated, or fired. 

I suspect that deep in human nature is the belief that every accident has a culprit.  I suspect that deep in human nature is the instinct to find the culprit, convict him (or her), and sacrifice them on the altar of blame and blood.

But in thinking about some of 2007′s spectacular mine-related failures, I wonder if maybe  many of them have no culprit.  Maybe many of them are the result of mere lapses by nice people.  Maybe many of them are what may be called “system failures.”  Maybe even where people died or we now can predict a 1,000 years of negative geomorphological impact, there is nobody so silly, negligent, or culpable that they should be marched to the altar of blame. 

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