Water Quality Predictive Modelling & Risk Assessment

An important task in the management of mine water quality is the prediction of changes in mine water chemistry in response to changes in mining, or development of a project over time, or on closure. The task of making valid accurate predictions of mine site water quality is therefore a critical component in understanding and minimising liabilities.

SRK has experience of making quantitative, valid predictions of water quality throughout the life cycle of mining operations for most mineral commodities and in all mining and process scenarios and in different climates and regulatory environments.

The benefits of accurate predictions are improved confidence in the project by mining regulators, accurate assessment of capital and operational costs associated with mine water quality management, and early prediction and planning of any adverse events that may arise and lead to excessive engineering costs or uncontrolled pollution incident.

Services

  • Predictive modelling of mine site water quality including waste rock, tailings, groundwater, surface water and pit lake geochemistry
  • Quantitative prediction of heap leach and in-situ recovery metal and mineral recovery for gold, copper, uranium, potash, lithium and nickel operations
  • Numerical modelling of both passive and active mine water treatment options and associated cost-benefit assessment
  • Fate transport modelling and prediction of contaminant attenuation for metals, metalloids and other potential pollutants
  • Process geochemical modelling
  • Risk assessment and management strategies based on the results of geochemical prediction calcualtions

Approach

A conceptual model is constructed from the best available geological, meteorological, hydrogeological, water quality, mineralogical, and waste rock geochemical characterisation data. From this, a numerical prediction is completed using a variety of software packages including: PHREEQC, PHAST, PHMT3D, MINTEQA2 and/or Geochemist Workbench software. After a number of calculation simulations (or sensitivities) are run to identify the most sensitive parameters and potential range of errors of Monte Carlo simulation using calculations, a screening Level Ecological Risk Assessment (SLERA) is applied to the calculated results.

Experience

SRK has a geochemical team whose members are respected in both corporate and academic fields. To date, we have completed numerous mine site water quality predictions with SLERA style risk: assessment, uranium transport, cyanide and arsenic attenuation, passive and active mine water treatment systems. In a number of cases, the predictions have had to stand up to rigorous environmental agency scrutiny.

SRK United Kingdom