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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

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Today we completed a three-day EduMine webcast on  Mine Water Management.  Some thirty people from all over the world joined in.  Maybe you can join us next time we do this.  But for now, here are a few ideas on research opportunities in mine water management that came up during discussions.

Risk Assessment in Mine Water Management.  There were a few papers at the Tailings and Mine Waste Conference recently on risk assessment for tailings facility management.  I am not aware of any substantial work on the issue of risk assessment in mine water management in the broader context. Much has and can be done with GoldSim, but I know there is a need for fundamental research on this issue.  For example the recently issued Canadian Dam Association Guidelines on Mining Dams (aka Tailings Facilities) recommends design flood recurrence intervals based on the tailings facility hazard ranking.  Neat but without much justification or substantiation.

Acidic Tailings Polymer Amendment.   Polymer amendment of oil sands is successful.  But can this approach be used to limit acid production by tailings?  I have no idea and am not aware of any work in this regard.

Wetland Efficacy.   There is much written and much has been done on this topic.  I suspect, however, that there is much more to be done in the context of mining applications.

Perpetual Mine Water Treatment Cost Estimating.  In my view this is still one of the most difficult issues in mine water management.  It is being done all the time, yet it is still an art, not a science.  We need the deep financial types to tackle this one.

Dealing with Karst at Mine Sites.  There is a rich source of case histories on this issue in South Africa.  Most are tales of woe.  One way to do it is to put you structure that is underlain by karst geology on a foundation of cemented soil and rock—and preferable include copious geogrids in the foundation so that if the sinkhole develops, the foundation bridges the hole and the structure remain intact or at least does not fail rapidly and kill people.

Deep Ocean Disposal.  I have previously noted on this blog that the Chilean mining industry is looking into this practice in great detail.  Surely an examination in concert with Chile by other ocean-bordered countries would be a fascinating research topic for an aspiring young student.

I am sure there are many other interesting related research topics.  Please note your ideas as a comment.

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This year I have visited at least sixteen tailings facilities from the far north of Canada to the far south of Chile.  Mainly I was there to see about the state, safety, and ongoing operation of the facilities.  But along the way I had an incredible opportunity to observe and photograph mine water management facilities and systems. In next week’s EduMine webcast on Mine Water Management, I will have a chance to distill these many observations into a coherent whole.  So come join us in the webcast next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  But three hours a day each morning and I will update you on the many systems, practices, components, and ideas I have gleaned from these trips and observations.  Many new case histories courtesy of the mines I visited. (more…)

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The first day of presentations at the Tailings and Mine Waste 2014 Conference.  Gordon McPhail delivered a talk in honor of Geoff Blight, who passed away earlier this year.  Geoff made so many contributions to tailings that we were talking for at least an hour about him and his genius.  I honor him here in the only way I know:  record my opinion that he was one of the great of tailings. (more…)

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Foto: Peter Öhman

The translation above the pictures reads:

It doesn’t matter that it is Sweden’s most modern mine, built according to environmental laws, which the Government says is the world’s strongest. In addition, Northlands mine outside Pajala is a financial flop, it is now also an ecological disaster.
One million cubic metres of water with toxic heavy metals such as nickel, cadmium, lead, copper, and more flows straight out of the wrecked mine dam to Muonioälven and later the Torne River, which is classified as a national river.

At this link you will find four photos that appear to show the breach of the perimeter embankment or dike and spillage of tailings into the surrounding countryside.  Above is one of them.

The reports make little mention of the causes of failure.  Although the four pictures appear to show more than one breach.  A posting on Facebook dates the failure as 19 July 2014.

Please comment if you know more.

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I write this fifty percent in jest, fifty percent in earnest, fifty percent with tounge in cheek, and fifty percent as a concerned citizen.  You decide which is which in what follows, for I cannot decide.  After the failure of the Bafokeng tailings facility, we built a dike across the failed area and picked up the tailings on the mine property.  We put these picked-up tailings back in the slimes dam.  Then we built a rockfill dike with an upstream filter across the valley just at the edge of the mine property.  Thus any tailings we did not pick up were washed down to the dike and were in due course picked up and put back in the slimes dam.  In due course, they filled in the failure volume with new tailings as the mine continued production. (more…)

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The Tyee, a local Vancouver newspaper at this link, with some amazement recognizes with regard to the Morgenstern, Vick, and Van Zyl panel: (more…)

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The oft-asked question I get is this: how do you prevent a recurrence of the Mt Polley failure?  I have touched on some aspects of the answer in previous postings.  But let me, here, state my opinion succinctly.  Sure to be controversial, but this is what I truly believe is necessary to prevent a recurrence of Mt Polley, at least here in BC.   At least the following should be done for every tailings facility (in BC?): (more…)

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