Mine Water Management Overview

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SRK News | Issue 55: Mine Water Management

Tony Rex, Corporate Consultant (Hydrogeology)
Tom Sharp, Principal Consultant (Civil / Environmental)    

 

As the mining industry focuses on improving productivity, reducing operating costs, and venturing into ever more challenging and remote locations for new projects, there is an increased need to look upon water as a whole-project issue.

Add broader perspectives such as stakeholder considerations and effects of a changing climate and water can present a significant risk to a mining project if not fully understood and managed. In this newsletter, we look at diverse aspects of water in the mining industry where SRK has added value and expertise to clients’ projects. There are several strong themes that come through in the articles:

A changing climate: many mines and projects are located in regions where climate patterns are already changing. The way water is managed on mine sites needs to adapt accordingly; from effective flood risk mitigation through to ensuring operational continuity under drought conditions.

Integrated water management: whole-operation water management begins with effective mine site water balances but also requires a joined-up approach between the various functional teams running the mine. Interactive dashboards are just one example of how diverse water management activities at an operation can be more effectively managed.

Focused studies: clients often want specific issues investigated, or solutions developed for a particular problem. The diverse range of technical water-related studies profiled here demonstrates the strength and depth of SRK’s experience which we apply to respond to our clients needs. Our understanding of mining operations and clients’ objectives and priorities enables us to design and implement studies in a focused and effective manner.

Groundwater management is one area where very specialised, niche studies are required to fully understand the conditions at a particular project site before appropriate solutions can be evaluated and designed.

Tailings facility management is another focus area for targeted studies. In both cases, the combination of targeted field investigations and testwork, careful data analysis and appropriate modelling are essential in delivering a successful outcome.

Water care and good governance: employing water re-use and minimisation methods in mining operations not only reduces costs but also reduces risks and improves corporate governance indicators. Mine operations are becoming increasingly aware of their water ‘footprint’ and the benefits this approach delivers.

Good neighbours: the increasing recognition of water as a finite resource to be safeguarded, managed and shared with the wider community is driving mining companies more and more to improved mine water management throughout the design, operational management and closure lifecycle of projects. The other way of looking at this is conflict-mitigation; working alongside and with local communities and being recognised as good neighbours.

In summary, SRK helps identify, manage and mitigate risks in mine water management while also highlighting opportunities through innovative thinking and embracing a whole project approach.

Tony Rex: arex@srk.co.uk
Tom Sharp: tsharp@srk.com
 

SRK United Kingdom