Article

Systems modelling for effective mine water management

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Abstract

Concerns about the difficulties in securing water have led the Australian coal mining industry to seek innovative ways to improve its water management and to adopt novel strategies that will lead to less water being used and more water being reused. Simulation tools are essential to assess current water management performance and to predict the efficiency of potential strategies. As water systems on coal mines are complex and consist of various inter-connected elements, a systems approach was selected, which views mine site water management as a system that obtains water from various sources (surface, groundwater), provides sufficient water of suitable quality to the mining tasks (coal beneficiation, dust suppression, underground operations) and maintains environmental performance. In this paper, the model is described and its calibration is illustrated. The results of applying the model for the comparison of the water balances of 7 coal mines in the northern Bowen Basin (Queensland, Australia) are presented. The model is used to assess the impact of applying specific water management strategies. Results show that a simple systems model is an appropriate tool for assessing site performance, for providing guidance to improve performance through strategic planning, and for guiding adoption of site objectives.

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... The use of modelling and simulation is a proven and reliable approach for predicting and optimising usage of a constrained resource within complex, dynamic systems [14,15]. Regardless of the level of sophistication of the modelling platform eventually adopted, such as Vensim, Goldsim, STELLA, MATLAB, or even simple spreadsheets [6], all models must start from a relatively simple conceptual model of a mine's water balance. ...
... Apart from the many WMS studies focusing on water quantity optimisation, there are other studies that have sought to optimise water quality. For example, [14] used a model of the water system to assess the impact of various water management strategies on water quality, examining the effect of varying factors such storage capacities, worked water and fresh water intake ratios on the monitored output quality parameter, namely total dissolved solids (TDS) content of the water. TDS refers to the mass of residue that remains after a measured volume of filtered water has been evaporated [23]. ...
... Reference [23] used HSC Sim software to analyse how water quality affects process performance during froth floatation and to identify water saving strategies. Many authors note the need for digitalisation and automation of data collection and monitoring systems for better performance [14,23]. Despite these varying complexities, all water balance systems comprise of four basic elements at their core, namely water withdrawal, internal processes' usage, consumption and discharge. ...
Article
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The mining industry is faced with a double challenge of diminishing water availability and deteriorating water quality, with high mine effluent discharges exacerbating the latter. Mining companies must adopt effective ways to make their water service networks sustainable, simultaneously addressing problems of high water consumption and high pollution load, while ensuring that enough water is provided at the right quality for various processes. This papers aims to examine the water network for a PGM mining and beneficiation operation, in order to identify major drivers of poor water quality and high water usage, as well as to give direction for process optimisation. The study first considers the mining and beneficiation process steps, establishing the value-chains for both mineral and water. It then takes an LCA methodological approach to define each process step, identifying the variables that influence pollution load. Relevant process factors are extracted from literature and incorporated into a causal loop diagram. A stock and flow dynamic model is developed, with source, sink and flow rates of water clearly defined. The resulting system is simulated using modelling software and optimised for the following objectives: maximised mineral yield, maximised reused water, minimised freshwater extraction, discharged wastewater and treated water for reuse. Based on results, biggest factors influencing pollution load are identified and strategies for improving water efficiency are discussed. The extent to which water recycling offsets demand for freshwater extraction is determined, together with its impact on effluent discharge. Finally, challenges to be addressed in future research work are discussed. Unlike previous studies that mostly focussed on optimising water use for a single process, usually floatation, this study took a holistic approach and considered the entire value chain of mining and beneficiation.
... The water and salt balance systems model for the mine is simplified (Figure 4.1), and the case study model is characterised in terms of the mine known as 'mine 5' in Côte et al. (2010). We present this case study to illustrate the value of the C-HSM in analysing the effects of water management options and exploring desirable strategies with multiple objectives. ...
... In this case study, the coal production rate and the maximum salt concentration accepted by the CHPP task are assumed to be 6.05 Mt/year and 5000 mg/L, respectively. Water demand for each task, the volume of pipeline raw water import (here, raw water refers to fresh water) and the storage capacity of the worked water store are set in terms of data reported in the literature (Moran et al., 2006;Côte et al., 2010;Zhang et al., 2014). The other parameters are set as in Table B.1 . ...
... Ensuring water security for routine coal production, the simulated raw water use under the baseline strategy is 331.4 L/t, which is close to the 329 L/t reported by Côte et al. (2010). The baseline strategy results in 86.5 L/t unregulated discharge, which is consistent with the conclusion that the case study mine is a site with a discharge risk, as reported by Côte et al. (2010). ...
... Two of the most pressing strategic water risks encountered at a mine site level are those of Wetness and Dryness [7]. Wetness risk occurs when the stock of water on a site exceeds its carrying capacity, resulting in flooding (with associated environmental impacts due to the discharge of contaminated water). ...
... Dryness risk occurs when there is insufficient water available for production and/or when the site's use of water creates conflicts over water access for surrounding communities. Both of these risks represent very real concerns for mining companies and have been well documented in both developed [7,19] and developing [17] contexts. ...
... Such information is crucial for benchmarking water performance across sites, but can also facilitate decision making at a site level through highlighting which water sources the site is most dependent on. The second approach is through the development of dynamic systems models that simulate flows throughout the mining site allowing assessment of Wetness and Dryness risks associated with climatic variations [7]. Although there is growing attention on the use of systems models within the mining industry [14,16,7], research has largely focused on developing and validating the modelling approach. ...
Article
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Mining operations increasingly encounter two water-related risks: (1) Dryness – having insufficient water to meet production needs; and (2) Wetness – having too much water leading to discharge during high rainfall events. Water accounts and dynamic systems models have been developed to assist decision makers in identifying these risks, however little empirical research has explored the practical utility of a systems modelling approach. To address this gap, we apply a systems approach at an operational mine site. Uncertainties in water flows were identified to guide decisions about where additional monitoring equipment should be installed to improve the accuracy of the overall site water balance. Simulation results provided valuable information for the site water committee to consider “out-of-the-box” ideas for progressing towards its ambitious water goals and mitigating strategic water risks. It is concluded that systems approaches should be further applied within mining and other industrial sectors.
... We have applied the HSM to the evaluation of water management options for an underground coal mine in the Bowen Basin in Queensland, Australia. The water and salt balance system for the mine is simplified as shown in Fig. 1, and the case study model is characterised in terms of the mine known as "mine 5" in Côte et al. (2010). We present this case to illustrate the value of the HSM in its capability to analyse effects of water management options and exploring desirable strategies with multiple objectives. ...
... Ensuring water security for routine coal production, the simulated raw water use under the baseline strategy is 331.4 L/t, which is close to the 329 L/t reported in Côte et al. (2010). The baseline strategy results in 86.5 L/t unregulated discharge, which is consistent with the conclusion that the case study mine is a site with a discharge risk, as reported by Côte et al. (2010). ...
... L/t, which is close to the 329 L/t reported in Côte et al. (2010). The baseline strategy results in 86.5 L/t unregulated discharge, which is consistent with the conclusion that the case study mine is a site with a discharge risk, as reported by Côte et al. (2010). The worked-raw-supply strategies lead to many failures in supplying water required by water tasks. ...
Article
This paper presents a hierarchical systems model, which integrates a simulator of the mine water use process with a multi-objective optimiser for assessing mine water management strategies. The simulator advances prior tools in simulating complicated strategies by placing operation rules on model objects and process states. An optimisation framework that interacts with the simulator is used to identify optimal strategies for water storage, use and reuse that are ‘fit-for-purpose’, easy to handle, and eco- nomic. The model has been used to assess mine water use strategies in a coal mine in Queensland, Australia. The simulation results indicate that some tested strategies could reduce water use costs by more than 40%, and raw water needed by more than 50%. Further, the optimisation revealed more easy- to-handle strategies that could save more than 40% of pipeline water and reduce the risks of penalties associated with discharge and of losing production due to insufficient water.
... We have applied the HSM to the evaluation of water management options for an underground coal mine in the Bowen Basin in Queensland, Australia. The water and salt balance system for the mine is simplified as shown in Fig. 1, and the case study model is characterised in terms of the mine known as "mine 5" in Côte et al. (2010). We present this case to illustrate the value of the HSM in its capability to analyse effects of water management options and exploring desirable strategies with multiple objectives. ...
... Ensuring water security for routine coal production, the simulated raw water use under the baseline strategy is 331.4 L/t, which is close to the 329 L/t reported in Côte et al. (2010). The baseline strategy results in 86.5 L/t unregulated discharge, which is consistent with the conclusion that the case study mine is a site with a discharge risk, as reported by Côte et al. (2010). ...
... L/t, which is close to the 329 L/t reported in Côte et al. (2010). The baseline strategy results in 86.5 L/t unregulated discharge, which is consistent with the conclusion that the case study mine is a site with a discharge risk, as reported by Côte et al. (2010). The worked-raw-supply strategies lead to many failures in supplying water required by water tasks. ...
... The coal mining industry in particular is currently facing multiple, complex water resource management challenges such as securing sufficient water for operations during water-limited periods and avoiding non-compliant discharge of mineaffected water (i.e., worked water) during extreme rainfall events (Gao et al., 2016b). Climatic variability exacerbates these challenges, and conventional methods of mine-water resource management such as building regional water infrastructure are not sufficient to address them (Côte et al., 2010). ...
... Increasingly, systems models (e.g., Côte et al., 2010) have been used to describe the dynamics of the whole mine-water system and evaluate the effectiveness of water management options. Low-level detail of the mine-water system is neglected and system elements, such as individual water storages, input and output fluxes, and different uses of water, are typically aggregated as a set of water objects (Woodley et al., 2013). ...
... Water is also an essential input during minerals processing; for example, water is the primary medium used in flotation, whereby valuable minerals attach to rising bubbles to allow separation from unwanted waste material. Other uses of water within a mining project include the transportation of ore and waste, and potable uses [14,15]. ...
... Kunz local contextual conditions. Objectives of a mine water management system may include: meeting operational water supply needs through reliable sources; avoiding discharge volumes or qualities that exceed local regulations; maintaining an acceptable water quality within the processing plant such that metal recovery is not compromised; reusing/ recycling water to minimize the volume of water imported to site; and/ or minimizing water losses such as evaporation, for example [5,6,14,29]. Kunz et al. [6] distinguishes between three overarching strategies that operations can use to achieve these objectives: (1) operational (changing management practices); (2) technological (installing new products or technologies); or (3) infrastructural (implementing fundamental changes to the site configuration). ...
Article
Full-text available
There is growing attention to the importance of water issues in the mining sector from companies, community members, investors and governments. Declining ore grades, concerns about mine closure legacies, and vulnerability to physical water risks such as water scarcity and flooding are just some of the factors suggesting that mine water issues will continue to grow in magnitude, significance and complexity. In this paper, I introduce the water security community to key water issues as they relate to the large-scale mining sector. Further, I argue that mining companies have historically adopted an internally oriented definition of water risks, and argue for greater attention to the outbound risks that may arise for other actors. I conclude by discussing outstanding research challenges and opportunities that would benefit from improved engagement with the broader community of scholars working on water security challenges.
... The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [1] predicts that by 2025, 60 per cent of the world's population will be living in countries classified as "water stressed", with the United Nations [2] estimating that to meet global needs, the world will need 30 per cent more clean water by 2030. This poses a challenge for industries such as mining where water is a critical input for mineral separation and processing, transporting ore and waste, tailings management, dust suppression, washing equipment, and human consumption at mine sites [3]. It is now estimated that two thirds of the world's largest mines are in countries facing water scarcity risk [4], a situation set to intensify in the coming years [5]. ...
... In response, many mining companies are seeking to demonstrate improved water management practices within their operations [3,15,16]. These efforts typically focus on reducing water volumes used for mining, re-using water from operations within the mining process, and designing zero discharge facilities that seek to capture and recycle all water from the site. ...
Article
Full-text available
With many of the world’s largest mines operating in jurisdictions of water scarcity, competition for water has become a frequent source of tension between mining companies and other water users. Water stewardship is, therefore, becoming an important strategy for the mining sector to address stakeholder concerns and earn social acceptance. Collaborative partnerships between mining and other water users are a necessary component of advancing water stewardship, but the attributes needed to implement a successful water stewardship strategy are understudied. This paper addresses this gap by examining two exploratory case studies in Peru and Mongolia, where collaboration has been used as a strategy for promoting more sustainable outcomes in water-scarce regions. The findings suggest that while questions remain about who is best suited to lead collaborative partnerships, trust in the entity responsible for leading collaborative partnerships (especially in situations of high conflict) and a willingness to allow each partner to play to their strengths are critical attributes of success. We conclude that the outcome of collective action between mining companies and other water users offers the potential to deliver both business and social value, and to advance more sustainable water management.
... The challenge therefore is to develop a model that can incorporate detailed numeric geochemical reaction modelling on a regional level for a range of geochemical environments. Although these types of ecosystem models have been applied to regional water management concerns (Côte, 2010;Barthel, 2008), none have been applied to geochemical systems in the ERB. Therefore a systems approach thought to provide a context in which detailed reaction modelling can be placed in a regional context to better understand AMD geochemical dynamics in the ERB. ...
... Although such ecosystem type models have been developed successfully in other disciplines, only a few have been focussed on natural systems (Côte et al., 2010;Barthel, R.;Ewel, 1999 Africa, 2007) indicate that it is most probably not possible to conclude all remediation concurrently with mining, the liabilities are decreased due to greater certainties regarding successful remediation techniques and smaller financial provision is most probably required when concurrent rehabilitation is conducted. ...
Thesis
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In recent years acid mine drainage (AMD) has become the focus on many mine sites throughout the world. The Witwatersrand gold mines have been the main focus of AMD in South Africa due to their extensive impact on especially groundwater resources. The Witwatersrand Basin is a regional geological feature containing the world-famous auriferous conglomerate horizons. It is divided into sub-basins and the East Rand Basin is one of them. Due to the regional scale of the East Rand Basin AMD issues, a systems approach is required to provide a useful tool to understand the pollution source term and fate and transport dynamics and to aid in environmental decision making and to evaluate the geochemical impact of mitigation measures and evaluate future scenarios. The numeric geochemical models, using a systems perspective, show that the mine waste facilities, specifically the tailings dams are significant contamination point sources in the East Rand Basin, specifically for acidity (low pH), SO4, Fe, Mn, U, Ni, Co, Al and Zn. When the AMD solution enters the soil beneath the tailings, ferrous and SO4 concentrations remain elevated, while Mn, U, Ni and Co and perhaps other metals are adsorbed. After ~50 years the pollution plume starts to break through the base of the soil profile and the concentration of the adsorbed metals increase in the discharging solution as the adsorption capacity of the soil becomes saturated. The pollution pulse then starts to migrate to the shallow groundwater where contamination of this resource occurs. Toe seepage from the tailings either first reacts with carbonate, where acidity is neutralised to a degree and some metals precipitated from solution, where after it reaches the surface water drainage, such as the Blesbokspruit, where it is diluted. Some evaporation can occur, but evaporation only leads to concentration of acidity and dissolved constituents, thereby effectively worsening the AMD solution quality. The mixing models have shown that the dilution factor is sufficient to mitigate much of the AMD, although seasonal variability in precipitation and evapotranspiration is expected to have some influence on the mixing ratio and some variability in the initial solution will also be reflected in variation in surface water quality. From a sustainability perspective, a basic cost benefit analysis shows that the costs for the operating mine and society in general is lower when mitigation measures are employed during operation. For a theoretical mine in the ERB with an operating life of 100 years, the cost of operational mitigation measures is ~R 31 billion. This value is 4% of turnover and 19% of profits over the time period. Post closure remediation costs are ~R 67 billion. This value is 8% of turnover and 41% of profit over the time period. Although the initial capital investment in mitigation measures is substantial, although some measures will be implemented during operation, it is a smaller percentage of profits than eventual post-closure mitigation.
... Some studies have examined the correlation between these two components (Nguyen et al., 2014;Gunson et al., 2010;Norgate and Haque, 2012). Other studies have focused on modelling mine water management without considering energy consumed (Cote et al., 2010;Gunson et al., 2012). One case study by Moolman and Vietti (2012) details the connection between water recovery and power cost (capital and operating) in tailings management of a platinum project on the Eastern Limb of the Bushveld Complex. ...
... Similarly to previous mine water systems modelling approaches e.g. (Cote et al., 2007(Cote et al., , 2010, the water/energy network is considerably simplified, as follows. The various water storages on site are aggregated into two large storages (the Raw Store and Mixed Store) based on whether they contain 'raw' water only (that which is 'new' to site); or some combination or raw water and 'worked' water (that which has been involved in some mining process) The many activities that occur on site are also represented by three aggregated tasks (Mining, Transport, and Processing), as per the groupings of water and energy use discussed previously. ...
Article
The aim of mine tailings management strategy is to protect the environment and humans from risks associated with mine tailings. It seems inevitable that future production from lower grade ores in mines will increase, generating a higher tonnage of tailings. Approximately 14 billion tonnes of tailings were produced globally by the mining industry in 2010. The need for a comprehensive framework for mine tailings management (including dewatering) that promotes sustainable development is therefore becoming increasingly recognised by the mining industry. In this paper, we review existing frameworks for tailings management and propose an improved framework that considers key sustainable development pillars: technological, economic, environmental, policy, and social aspects. This framework will be able to guide the mining sector to choose its mine tailings management strategy based on sustainable development concepts. It incorporates a range of tools for determining trade-offs inherent in different tailings management methods during operation and throughout the Life of Mine (LOM); these include Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Net Present Value (NPV), Hierarchy System Model (HSM), and Decision Analysis. In particular, this proposed recognises the highly case-specific of tailings management by explicitly integrating physicochemical characterisation of tailings properties as a first step. In future, the framework could be expanded through integration of reuse/recycle principles of industrial symbiosis.
... The coal mining industry in particular is currently facing multiple, complex water resource management challenges such as securing sufficient water for operations during water-limited periods and avoiding non-compliant discharge of mineaffected water (i.e., worked water) during extreme rainfall events (Gao et al., 2016b). Climatic variability exacerbates these challenges, and conventional methods of mine-water resource management such as building regional water infrastructure are not sufficient to address them (Côte et al., 2010). ...
... Increasingly, systems models (e.g., Côte et al., 2010) have been used to describe the dynamics of the whole mine-water system and evaluate the effectiveness of water management options. Low-level detail of the mine-water system is neglected and system elements, such as individual water storages, input and output fluxes, and different uses of water, are typically aggregated as a set of water objects (Woodley et al., 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Mine-water managers need tools to guide robust management strategies that can address the challenges of climate-influenced water scarcity and unregulated discharge. We aimed to identify those factors driving the risks of insufficient water supply for mine production and unpermitted discharge of mine-affected water in a way that is robust to heterogeneity between extreme climatic variability and mine sites. Using 16 coal mines in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, Australia, as a case study, we combined a model of complex mine-water management systems (C-HSM) with global sensitivity analysis (eFAST) to identify influential mine-water management factors. Comprehensive model diagnostics for the 16 mine-water systems under three climate conditions revealed that the uncertainty of key mine-water management indicators, and the contributions of model input parameters differed substantially between climate conditions and mine sites. We then applied four criteria from decision theory into the total sensitivity effects produced by the eFAST method, and developed sensitivity indicators that were robust to heterogeneity between climates and mine sites. These sensitivity indicators provide mine-water managers with options to guide the development of effective management strategies and the collection of additional information based on their own risk preference. While our results indicate some general management strategies that will be robust under multiple conditions, we caution that mine-water managers’ experience in dealing with challenges caused by too little and too much water cannot be blindly transplanted from one mine to another, or from one climate condition to another.
... The consumption can severely influence local supplies if mining activities occur in water-stressed areas, such as arid/semi-arid areas or where there is significant competition with municipal, agricultural and other industrial demands (e.g., Freitas and Magrini, 2013;Gao et al., 2013b;Kirby et al., 2014;Wang et al., 2014;Kirby et al., 2015). In addition, it has been found that a rapid increase in production and significant climate variability have brought on a pressure of securing water within the mining industry ( Côte et al., 2010;Loechel et al., 2013). In the face of these challenges occurring over decades, some mines have explored their potential to recycle mine-affected/contaminated water (worked water) by retaining water within a closed cycle or reserving water in a storage facility. ...
... Examples of such engineering models include GoldSim (GoldSim Technology Group, 2005) and OPSIM ( Water Solutions Pty Ltd, 2012). Provided that engineering models are not readily adaptable to capture the dynamics of such complex systems, some systems models ( Côte et al., 2010;Keir and Woodley, 2013;Woodley et al., 2013;Gao et al., 2014b) were built to assess effectiveness of water management strategies. As one of newly built systems models, the C-HSM describes the essence of the water system in mines without full detail of the site configurations. ...
Article
Australia’s mining sector periodically suffered huge losses both directly and indirectly from mismanagement of mine water during extreme climatic events. Mine water managers still lack cost-effective tools and strategies to manage both climate-influenced drought and flooding challenges. This paper aims to answer a fundamental question in mine water management: how much can a water sharing approach do to reduce unpermitted (unregulated) mine-affected water to overflow to the environment on a regional scale? To this end, we built a climate-driven hierarchical systems model (C-HSM) of sixteen coal mines in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, Australia. The C-HSM simulated the dynamics of the mine water systems, which was then the basis to assess the potential of mine water sharing to reduce unregulated discharge. We found that mine water sharing could greatly cut down regional unregulated discharge during the 2010-2011 wet season (which included an extreme flooding event). The cost of building such a regional-scale sharing infrastructure for redistributing water was found to be competitive to the lost revenue due to reduced coal production.
... Here, raw water is water that is received as an input and has not been used in a task. Worked water is water that has been through a task [20]. A life-of-mine approach is required to manage mine water but the emphasis of this paper is on the mine operating period. ...
Article
To move towards sustainable development, the mining industry needs to identify better mine water management practices for reducing raw water use, increasing water use efficiency, and eliminating environmental impacts in a precondition of securing mining production. However, the selection of optimal mine water management practices is technically challenging due to the lack of scientific tools to comprehensively evaluate management options against a set of conflicting criteria. This work has provided a solution to aid the identification of more sustainable mine water management practices. The solution includes a conceptual framework for forming a decision hierarchy; an evaluation method for assessing mine water management practices; and a sensitivity analysis in view of different preferences of stakeholders or managers. The solution is applied to a case study of the evaluation of sustainable water management practices in 16 mines located in the Bowen Basin in Queensland, Australia. The evaluation results illustrate the usefulness of the proposed solution. A sensitivity analysis is performed according to preference weights of stakeholders or managers. Some measures are provided for assessing sensitivity of strategy ranking outcomes if the weight of an indicator changes. Finally, some advice is given to improve the mine water management in some mines.
... A preliminary version of this protocol has been tested in the EuroGeoSource project, see section 4, where a number of Web Feature Services (WFS) providing data on mineral deposits and energy resources are periodically harvested and cached in a central node to improve the efficiency and availability of several applications. The data provided through these services can be used as an input in environmental models like those proposed by Côte et al. (2010) or González et al. (2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
An efficient access to the contents provided through OGC web services, widely used in environmental information systems, is usually achieved by means of caching strategies. Service-owners may be interested in expressing the conditions required to allow for this. If these conditions are expressed in a machine-readable way, automatic harvesters can be programmed to follow them when caching those services. This paper proposes a protocol to specify and follow cache policies for OGC web services expressed in a machine-readable language. A prelimi-nary implementation of this protocol has been tested in the EuroGeoSource project, where a number of Web Feature Services providing mineral deposits and energy resources are periodically harvested and cached to improve the efficiency and availability of several applications. The protocol addresses a nowadays common case, and can possibly be extended to allow for more de-tailed policies. Further work will help to determine how it could be integrated into a full Digital Rights Management system.
... Facility and process engineering improvement (e.g., dry quenching and dry-dedusting techniques for blast furnaces and converter flue gas, comprehensive use of water, flue gas and all solid wastes, regenerative combustion technology, gas recycling technology, blast furnace top gas recoveryunit technology, sintering desulfurization, use of retorts, etc.) Red, Rec, O, L [29,35] Mine water recycling Rec, L [54,55] Mine water management Red, O [56,57] Bioremediation Red, E [58][59][60][61] Mine rehabilitation (e.g., progressive type) Red, R [55,62] Shift to renewable energy and decarbonization Red, R [63,64] Inter-enterprise (meso) ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper discusses circular economy (CE) as an option to mitigate the environmental impacts of mining operations, and a framework based on the three dimensions of sustainability, the possible uses of mining wastes, the life cycle, and the systems approaches to determine the policies that will induce initiatives towards designing out wastes for a mining-based circular economy. Previous research has been reviewed to determine CE configuration and the basis for the framework to guide in the development of CE-related mining policies. The Chinese model of circular economy, noted for the introduction of industrial symbiosis through eco-industrial parks at the meso level, and public participation at the macro level, forms the basic structure of the framework aimed at curbing mining waste, and closing the loop in mining. Holistic research is important in taking proactive CE technology actions, strategic measures, and policies, which can use life cycle assessment (LCA) methods (environmental and social LCA and life cycle costing) and systems dynamic modeling. With systems dynamic modeling, the framework introduced in this work can be expanded to cover as many important aspects as possible, and can check for areas of policy resistance that have been the reason for most policy failures.
... To better understand how to improve water use by the mining industry it is important to first develop an understanding of how the global mining industry uses water. Several efforts have been made to quantify and understand mine water use, with a focus on life cycle analysis and key indicators (Azapagic, 2004;Cote et al., 2009;Cote et al., 2010;Mudd, 2008;Mudd, 2009;Norgate & Lovel, 2004;Norgate & Haque, 2010;Northey et al., 2012;Suppen et al., 2006;Tejos & Proust, 2008;Worrall et al., 2009). This section discusses how mining companies report their water use as well as mine water extraction reports on a national level and academic publications estimating mine water use rates for different commodities. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Water is vital to the mining industry; mines can require substantial amounts of water and are often located in some of the driest places on earth. Reducing water withdrawals and improving mine water use are key strategic requirements for moving toward a more sustainable mining industry. Mine water requirements often have significant technical, economic, environmental and political implications. This thesis quantifies global mine water withdrawals and discusses methods of improving mine water use by reducing water withdrawals and water-related energy consumption.
... Water interactions with coal mining operation inventory by providing sufficient storage capacity and ensure monitoring and discharge conditions are met. However, augmenting storage capacity at an existing mine site can be hugely challenging (Cote et al. 2010). Adopting efficient treatment technologies on-site would minimise the risk of wet season run-offs and freshwater contamination and allow segregation into different qualities of water to enable greater water recycling. ...
Chapter
This chapter examines the integration of forward osmosis (FO) with other water treatment methods with a particular focus on integrating FO and reverse osmosis (RO) technologies. It discusses the limitations of RO in relation to the quality of the feed water, in particular for the treatment of mining wastewater. In dry conditions, water management must focus on minimizing dependence on high-quality water. Adapting coal handling and preparation plants and dust suppression to use highly saline water reduces the volume of raw water that needs treatment at mine sites. The chapter presents different modes of integration and examines the advantages and limitations of different hybrid configurations. The hybrid system could potentially eliminate the extensive pretreatment required for conventional RO processes and thereby the overall cost of desalination. The mine site application of hybrid FO-RO technology has yet to be investigated.
... However, these models are not designed to assess water management strategies. Recently, focusing on the whole system, Côte et al. (2010) built a system model called SiteMiser for evaluating mine water management performance. The model abstracts a mine water system as a few water entities: a worked water store, a raw water store, several water tasks, a blending facility, and a treatment plant. ...
... Several efforts have been made to assess the relationship between energy and water use in mining operations (Gunson et al., 2010;Norgate and Haque, 2012;Nguyen et al., 2014). Other studies have focused solely on mine water management without considering energy consumption (Cote et al., 2010;Gunson et al., 2012). The significance of water and energy consumption in mining operations is captured in some modelling systems such as the Mine Water Network Design (MWND) and the Hierarchical System Model (HSM) (Gunson et al., 2010;Nguyen et al., 2014). ...
Article
Mining is a water and energy intensive industry, and reducing water and energy consumption are two important issues in the quest for more sustainable industrial production. The aim of this paper is to assess the correlation between water and energy requirements in various tailings disposal strategies (on a per cent solids-based analysis). Two main methods are used: rheology testing and a system modelling approach. A coal mine site in Australia was chosen as a case study to apply five tailings disposal options. These five options are differentiated by the percentage of solids in the tailings ranging from 30% to 70%. The rheology analysis indicated that the coal mine tailings with 65-70% solids are not pumpable and these two options are beyond the scope of this study. The results of the analyses show that the optimal scheme process in terms of water saving, water management, and energy consumption involved tailings with 50% mass solids. The implementation of this option resulted in both lower water transport (15,532 ML/y) and energy consumption (34.7 TJ/y). This option also reduced the overall flows of water to the Tailings Storage Facility by 30%.
... To date, various physical and chemical dust control methods have been used in dust prediction and prevention, such as water spray, coal seam water infusion, foam and ventilation [8][9][10]. However, as for these methods, there are advantages and disadvantages, for instance, a good water spray system has remarkable dust removal efficiency because it can decrease the dust concentration in the air by 60% [11]. ...
Article
Generally, an effective ventilation system is essential to reduce coal dust disaster. However, with the implementation of carbon tax and increase of energy and operating costs, it is urgent to design a cost-effective ventilation and dust control system. In this paper, a real driving face in an excavation laneway of coal mine in China was taken as the physical model, and the temporospatial characteristics of airflow and dust dispersion is investigated for the first time to design an original conception of time-varying ventilation and dust control strategy. Specifically, computational fluid dynamic (CFD) approaches are utilized to investigate the dynamic regularity of airflow behavior and dust dispersion, and parametric studies are conducted to select the appropriate ventilation pattern, which is validated to be potential in energy saving as well as dust removal efficiency. In addition, based on the selection of key time point according to the regularity of dust concentration changed over time, the most effective type of speed function is brought out for this novel ventilation system, which reduces energy usage up to 15.11% in a ventilation period. Furthermore, the accuracy of simulation result is verified by field measurements, which demonstrates that adjusting the ventilation velocity at the appropriate time point (case 7) can effectively control the dust concentration, which performs as well as the steady flow. The research results suggest that the further understanding of temporospatial characteristics of dust dispersion is helpful for ventilation design, and significant energy savings and dust removal requirements are verified to be possible in the proposed scheme.
... Water is an indispensable resource for the mining industry because it is used in almost every stage of production (Gao et al., 2014). In the mining industry, water is used in mineral separation and processing, metal recovery, dust suppression, slurry transport, meeting the needs of workers on site, etc. (Côte et al., 2010). Therefore, the access to a secure and sustainable industrial water supply is crucial to mining industry (Nguyen et al., 2014). ...
Conference Paper
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In this paper an adaptive expert generalized predictive multivariable controller (AEGPMC) is developed for control of a seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant, which supplies freshwater for a mineral processing facility. Based on the use of subspace system identification algorithms a dynamic multivariable model, which considered the permeate flow rate and the permeate conductivity as the controlled variables, is derived and its parameters are computed from experimental data. This model is used in the design of the AEGPMC. The obtained simulation results demonstrate that the performance of the control system with the designed AEGPMC is much more appropriate and robust than with the other multivariable GPC.
... Water is an indispensable resource for the mining industry because it is used in almost every stage of production (Gao et al., 2014). In the mining industry, water is used in mineral separation and processing, metal recovery, dust suppression, slurry transport, meeting the needs of workers on site, etc. (Côte et al., 2010). Therefore, the access to a secure and sustainable industrial water supply is crucial to mining industry (Nguyen et al., 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper an adaptive expert generalized predictive multivariable controller (AEGPMC) is developed for control of a seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant, which supplies freshwater for a mineral processing facility. Based on the use of subspace system identification algorithms a dynamic multivariable model, which considered the permeate flow rate and the permeate conductivity as the controlled variables, is derived and its parameters are computed from experimental data. This model is used in the design of the AEGPMC. The obtained simulation results demonstrate that the performance of the control system with the designed AEGPMC is much more appropriate and robust than with the other multivariable GPC.
... Ma and other scholars classified the influence degree of coal mining on springs and discussed the influence mechanism of coal mining on springs. In addition, the effect of coal mining on water resources and ecological environment has been extensively investigated [2,3,20]. ...
Article
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The main purpose of this study was to analyze the effect of coal mining on the springs in the Yushenfu mining area of China. The results of two springs and hydrological surveys conducted in 1994 and 2015 were compared to study the occurrence and evolution of springs before and after large-scale mining. The mechanism of spring evolution and ecological effects of domain evolution were analyzed by combined groundwater monitoring and evaluation of coal mining intensity. The results show that the maximum amount of single water inflow of spring with sand infiltration recharge was more than 10 L/s, the total amount of single water inflow of spring with mixed infiltration recharge was the highest, and the ecological effect of spring with loess infiltration recharge was the most significant. In the study area, 2580 springs (group) were distributed with a total flow of 4998.9428 L/s before 1994 and 376 residual springs (group) were present with a total flow of 996.392 L/s in 2015. Large-scale mining decreased the regional groundwater level, thus decreasing the amount of spring water. The high intensity of mining decreased the number of springs (group) and area of water and wetland in the study area. This directly affected the watershed ecology; the ecological degradation was significant.
... Water management is a key activity to face this issue and the research literature provides methods for its developing in the mining context. However, these methods address mainly operational issues of water use, not the strategic aspects of water management (Côte et al., 2010;Gunson et al., 2010Gunson et al., , 2012. It means that the efforts have been focused on efficient use of water in mining operations rather than on addressing problems and conflicts with local communities and the environment. ...
Article
This work presents a multi-objective optimization approach to designing integrated water supply systems for the mining industry. The main goal is to estimate the total operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions from water supply systems. Chilean mining industry has been selected as a case study because of acute problem of water scarcity that it experiences. The current strategy to face the problem applied by the mining companies operating in Chile consists in building independent water supply systems that use ocean as the source of water. This solution is highly energy intensive, which is why the problem of water consumption is also a problem of energy consumption. The proposed optimization approach determines - from technical, economic and environmental perspective - the optimal topology of the system, optimal locations and sizes of water treatment plants, pumping stations, and pipelines. In addition, the analysis takes into account the eventual use of photovoltaic solar system in order to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Our main findings have demonstrated that an integrated water supply system is always the best option from an economic and environmental point of view.
... As mentioned in the Introduction, environmental simulation models are used extensively to support decision-making processes in a variety of application areas, such as: the development and evaluation of national and international environmental regulations (Giupponi, 2007;Laniak et al., 2013); land use management (Amato et al., 2018); natural hazard management ; the operation and management of reservoir systems ; the assessment of environmental and human health (Morley and Gulliver, 2018;Reis et al., 2015); the management of river systems (He, 2003;Humphrey et al., 2016;Hunter et al., 2018;Ravalico et al., 2010) ; the management of drains (Humphrey et al., 2016); the management of air pollution (Baró et al., 2014;Borge et al., 2014); flood inundation assessment (Teng et al., 2017); groundwater management and remediation (Jakeman et al., 2016;Piscopo et al., 2015;Singh, 2014); the design of water distribution networks so as to minimize global climate impacts (Stokes et al., 2015a;Stokes et al., 2014b;Wu et al., 2010a); the prediction of and adaption to natural hazards such as floods or droughts (Basher, 2006); crop and livestock management (Moore et al., 2014;van Keulen and Asseng, 2018); the design of green infrastructure for stormwater management and urban renewal (Liu et al., 2014;Yigitcanlar and Teriman, 2015); and evaluating the effects of resource extraction by the petroleum (Fiori and Zalba, 2003), natural gas (McJeon et al., 2014), mining (Côte et al., 2010) and timber (Alavalapati and Adamowicz, 2000) industries. Environmental models are in such widespread use because they can be designed to effectively reproduce the dynamics of real-world systems under traditional management situations as well as alternative virtual realities, including different environmental conditions and management alternatives, enabling optimal designs, strategies and policies to be developed under a range of scenarios . ...
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Environmental models are used extensively to evaluate the effectiveness of a range of design, planning, operational, management and policy options. However, the number of options that can be evaluated manually is generally limited, making it difficult to identify the most suitable options to consider in decision-making processes. By linking environmental models with evolutionary and other metaheuristic optimization algorithms, the decision options that make best use of scarce resources, achieve the best environmental outcomes for a given budget or provide the best trade-offs between competing objectives can be identified. This Introductory Overview presents reasons for embedding formal optimization approaches in environmental decision-making processes, details how environmental problems are formulated as optimization problems and outlines how single- and multi-objective optimization approaches find good solutions to environmental problems. Practical guidance and potential challenges are also provided.
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Sustainability issues are often difficult for companies to manage because they require communication across organisational departments and divisions. This paper provides some of the first empirical evidence that communication “silos” exist within the mining sector, and that they may be impeding effective water management. Results of a social network analysis at a mining company revealed gaps in direct communication about water-related issues between the two largest production departments. This gap was particularly surprising because the departments were connected in the other communication networks studied, namely: information, ideas, problem-solving and friendship. The Health, Safety and Environment department played a crucial brokerage role within the water network, suggesting that water is primarily perceived as an environmental issue. A lack of direct communication between the major production departments could pose a barrier for recognising and responding to production-critical water risks. The work also found that the water network was characteristic of a core-periphery structure, such that communication was vulnerable to the removal of central “hubs”. These hubs were dominated by senior management, which may present a risk for responding promptly to water-related crises. Further research is needed to investigate the impacts of a siloed communication structure for managing other sustainability issues including energy and community development.
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Reducing water consumption and increasing energy efficiency are emerging as two key requirements to move towards a more sustainable mining industry. However, the two targets can be in conflict as water management initiatives often lead to an increase in energy consumption. On the other hand, some water initiatives may lead to reduction in energy consumption, leading to synergy between energy and water efficiency initiatives. To maximise energy and water sustainability in mine water management, it is essential that synergy and trade-off potentials between the water and energy targets related to water initiatives are recognised. Limited research has been conducted to develop a tool or approach to consider water and energy impacts of water initiatives in a coupled manner. This paper presents a protocol to recognise water-energy synergy and trade-off potentials. The protocol is demonstrated for three case study mine sites. The results of this paper show that a particular water management option can hold a synergy potential for one mine but a trade-off potential for another mine. The rigour of the approach captures cases where water management options are predicted to be synergistic, but are in fact shown to be a trade-off according to the results. It is concluded that the use of this protocol can provide insights about synergy and trade-off potentials between water and energy targets of mine sites subject to water management options. This is an innovative approach to more holistically assess water management option impacts.
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The minerals industry is being driven to access multiple water sources and increase water reuse to minimize freshwater withdrawal. Bacteria-laden water, such as treated effluent, has been increasingly used as an alternative to freshwater for mineral processing, in particular flotation, where conditions are favorable for bacterial growth. However, the risk posed by bacteria to flotation efficiency is poorly understood. This could be a barrier to the ongoing use of this water source. This study tested the potential of a previously published risk-based approach as a management tool to both assist mine sites in quantifying the risk from bacteria, and finding system-wide cost-effective solutions for risk mitigation. The result shows that the solution of adjusting the flotation chemical regime could only partly control the risk. The second solution of using tailings as an absorbent was shown to be effective in the laboratory in reducing bacterial concentration and thus removing the threat to flotation recovery. The best solution is likely to combine internal and external approaches, that is, inside and outside processing plants. Findings in this study contribute possible methods applicable to managing the risk from water-borne bacteria to plant operations that choose to use bacteria-containing water, when attempting to minimize freshwater use and avoid the undesirable consequences of increasing its use.
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Land use and climate change effects on water quality and water quantity are well documented globally. Most studies evaluate individual factors and effects, without considering the interrelationships between land use, climate, water quality, and water quantity. This study provides an integrated assessment of the cumulative effects of climate change and potential open-pit coal mining on streamflow and water quality in the Oldman River Basin, Alberta, Canada. A hydrological model was developed that incorporates estimates of future selenium loading, water use, and projected changes in air temperature and precipitation to evaluate changes in water quantity and quality. Model results indicate that estimated selenium concentrations, absent any attenuation, are likely to be substantially above most water quality guidelines and strong reliance on mitigation technologies would be required to maintain adequate water quality in the watershed if mine development were to take place. Streamflow is sensitive to changes in climatic conditions, and modelling results suggest there are likely to be increases in winter flow, earlier peak flow, and reductions in flow during the summer and fall months under the climate change scenarios. These changes can have direct impacts on the degree of selenium dilution and more generally on aquatic habitat, ecosystem health, and socioeconomic needs. This study highlights that water management decisions may mis-evaluate the risks and tradeoffs of future mine development if they fail to adequately consider climate change and changing streamflow regimes and their indirect effects on water quality.
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There is a general trend towards more responsible water management across the minerals industry. Two important strategies have been implementation of water reuse and sourcing of alternative water supplies that otherwise would have been disposed of, such as treated effluent. Both strategies have been shown to result in increased inorganic and organic loads (including bacteria) in mineral processing, in particular, froth flotation. A number of studies have shown the effect of inorganic water constituents on the performance of flotation. However, far less is known about the impacts and processes associated with organic constituents, particularly bacteria. This study investigated the quantitative relationship between bacterial concentration in flotation water using E. coli as the model bacterium and the flotation performance of chalcopyrite. Flotation tests were carried out to quantify the effect of E. coli cells on the flotation of three chalcopyrite-containing systems of increasing complexity: high-purity chalcopyrite, a simulated ore with controlled gangue, and a porphyry copper-gold ore. The experimental results show that E. coli cells negatively affected the flotation efficiency of chalcopyrite in all three systems. The bacterial cells also negatively affected the flotation efficiency of pyrite in the simulated ore system, and gold in the porphyry ore system. The bacterial cells preferentially attached to pyrite over chalcopyrite in the simulated ore system. Findings in this study contribute to identifying some of the potential risks posed by using bacteria-containing water for flotation, when attempting to improve water efficiency.
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Due to the scarcity of the water footprint inventory data for the coal mining industry in South Africa, water footprint studies that are supposed to provide quantified and categorized environmental impacts are scarce. Consequently, water uses ecological implications within the industry are not well understood, albeit public perceptions suggesting that the industry is a water guzzler and polluter. This manuscript proposes water footprint inventory data for the industry to enable researchers to conduct water footprint studies. The median total water loss intensities for surface mines with and without beneficiation are 331 and 276 L/ton, whereas those of underground mines with and without beneficiation are 420 and 262 L/ton, respectively. The water-intensive sinks are evaporation, dust suppression, and discharge into the environment. Water management practices, i.e., the high recycling rate in mines with excess water, non-segregation of clean and dirty water streams, and deficient water treatment infrastructure, are the root causes of the water pollution in collieries. Although low pH, high sulfates, and high total dissolved solids in coal effluents are congruent to other jurisdictions, the high cyanide, iron, manganese, and mercury content make the country's pollutants inventory data uniquely different. Misalignment between drinking water and effluent discharge limits are the causes of regulatory challenges. The voluntary disclosure practice prohibits transparency within the industry.
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Most major mining companies have articulated strategies and targets to minimise the impacts of operations on surface and groundwater resources. However, the focus tends to be on mitigating negative impacts. In this field note, we make two contributions to assist mining sites in playing a positive role in implementing Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) aspirations. First, we introduce the notion of “water benefits” as a pathway for operationalizing regional IWRM objectives at a mine site level. Second, we propose a decision making framework to facilitate investment in water benefits. The framework comprises of five steps: (1) Select system boundary wherein benefits are to be delivered; (2) Quantify water availability; (3) Determine potential benefits; (4) Identify acceptable benefits; and (5) Implementation and monitoring. For a site to deliver water benefits that extend beyond the legal obligation of the company, we contend that there must be a sound business case. We therefore distinguish between steps that should be decided by the business (steps 1, 2 and 4) from those that should be completed in collaboration with the broader community (steps 3 and 5). Within this field note we do not test the practical utility of the framework in an empirical setting and as such it is not intended to be prescriptive. Rather, we seek to provide a foundation for scholarly/industry debate about how decision makers at a mine site level could take a more active role in contributing towards IWRM aspirations. We conclude that a “water benefits” perspective offers a novel basis for establishing regional water targets and could serve numerous advantages at a site-level including improved recognition about the value of water and improved understanding and mitigation of strategic water-related risks.
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The mining industry has positioned itself within the sustainability agenda, particularly since the establishment of the International Council of Mining and Minerals (ICMM). However, some critics have questioned this position, since mining requires the extraction of non-renewable finite resources and commercial mining companies have the specific responsibility to produce profit. Complicating matters is that terms that represent the sustainability such as ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’ have multiple definitions with varying degrees of sophistication. This work identifies eleven sustainability agenda definitions that are applicable to the mining industry and organises them into three tiers: first, Perpetual Sustainability, that focuses on mining continuing indefinitely with its benefits limited to immediate shareholders; second, Transferable Sustainability, that focuses on how mining can benefit society and the environment and third, Transitional Sustainability, that focuses on the intergenerational benefits to society and the environment even after mining ceases. Using these definitions, a discourse analysis was performed on sustainability reports from member companies of the ICMM and the academic journal Resources Policy. The discourse analysis showed that in both media the definition of the sustainability agenda was focussed on Transferable Sustainability, with the sustainability reports focused on how it can be applied within a business context while the academic journal took a broader view of mining's social and environmental impacts.
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An integrated approach is considered important for improving water management across a range of contexts – from water catchments to urban systems to mining sites. Challenges are faced in implementation due to the complexities in both human and physical (or engineered) dimensions. From a physical perspective, water systems are complex because issues are interconnected across spatial and temporal scales making it difficult to determine where to intervene to attain desired outcomes. The supporting human systems are also complex. Whether bounded at the company, regional or catchment scale, water systems are rarely controlled by a single actor or institution. For example, catchments extend across political boundaries, while different organisational departments share responsibilities for water reticulation through industrial sites. Effective water management requires coordinating decisions between diverse actors.
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The consumption of freshwater in mining accounts for only a small proportion of the total water use at global and even national scales. However, at regional and local scales, mining may result in significant impacts on freshwater resources, particularly when water consumption surpasses the carrying capacities defined by the amount of available water and also considering environmental water requirements. By applying a geographic information system (GIS), a comprehensive water footprint accounting and water scarcity assessment of bauxite, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, uranium and zinc as well as gold, palladium, platinum and silver was conducted to quantify the influence of mining and refining of metal production on regional water availability and water stress. The observation includes the water consumption and impacts on water stress of almost 2800 mining operations at different production stages, e.g., preprocessed ore, concentrate and refined metal. Based on a brief study of mining activities in 147 major river basins, it can be indicated that mining’s contribution to regional water stress varies significantly in each basin. While in most regions mining predominantly results in very low water stress, not surpassing 0.1% of the basins’ available water, there are also exceptional cases where the natural water availability is completely exceeded by the freshwater consumption of the mining sector during the entire year. Thus, this GIS-based approach provides precise information to deepen the understanding of the global mining industry’s influence on regional carrying capacities and water stress.
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A proper control and management of dust dispersion is essential to ensure safe and productive underground working environment. Brattice installation to direct the flow from main shaft to the mining face was found to be the most effective method to disperse dust particle away from the mining face. However, it limits the movement and disturbs the flexibility of the mining fleets and operators at the tunnel. This study proposes a hybrid brattice system - a combination of a physical brattice together with suitable and flexible directed and located air curtains - to mitigate dust dispersion from the mining face and reduce dust concentration to a safe level for the working operators. A validated three-dimensional computational fluid dynamic model utilizing Eulerian–Lagrangian approach is employed to track the dispersion of dust particle. Several possible hybrid brattice scenarios are evaluated with the objective to improve dust management in underground mine. The results suggest that implementation of hybrid brattice is beneficial for the mining operation: up to three times lower dust concentration is achieved as compared to that of the physical brattice without air curtain.
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Climate change is affecting flow volumes and regimes in glacier- And snow-melt-fed catchments. Together with increasing demands for water, this is putting many water users under increasing water security risk. The mines of the high Andes are one user group experiencing increased water stress. This paper illustrates the climate change problem using a 40 year hydro-climate data set from the headwaters of the Aconcagua basin in central Chile and describes the integration of climate, hydrology, mine water system and financial risk models to evaluate potential water supply solutions. It is concluded that existing water supplies are not sufficiently secure under baseline conditions and less secure under future climate scenarios. Recirculating water from the tailings storage facility, despite the large capital and operations costs involved, is considered the optimal climate-resilient solution and also offers social and environmental advantages. However, considerable modelling uncertainties exist, primarily related to spatial precipitation.
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A water balance model was developed to forecast the management strategy of a uranium mill effluent system, located in northern Saskatchewan, Canada. Mining and milling operations, such as pit dewatering or treated effluent release, can potentially influence the hydrology and the water quality downstream of the operations. This study presents the methodology used to predict water volumes and water quality discharging downstream in surface water bodies. A compartment model representing the three subsequent lakes included in the management system was set up using the software GoldSim®. The water balance allows predicting lake volumes at the daily time step. A mass balance model developed for conservative elements was also developed and allows validating the proportions of inputs and outputs issued from the water balance model. This model was then used as predictive tool to evaluate the impact of different scenarios of effluents management on volumes and chemistry of surface water for short and longer time periods. An additional significant benefit of this model is that it can be used as an input for geochemical modelling to predict the concentrations of all constituents of concern in the receiving surface water.
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The potential environmental threats posed by freshwater withdrawal and mine water discharge are some of the main drivers for the mining industry to improve water management. The use of multiple sources of water supply and introducing water reuse into the mine site water system have been part of the operating philosophies employed by the mining industry to realize these improvements. However, a barrier to implementation of such good water management practices is concomitant water quality variation and the resulting impacts on the efficiency of mineral separation processes, and an increased environmental consequence of noncompliant discharge events. There is an increasing appreciation that conservative water management practices, production efficiency, and environmental consequences are intimately linked through the site water system. It is therefore essential to consider water management decisions and their impacts as an integrated system as opposed to dealing with each impact separately. This paper proposes an approach that could assist mine sites to manage water quality issues in a systematic manner at the system level. This approach can quantitatively forecast the risk related with water quality and evaluate the effectiveness of management strategies in mitigating the risk by quantifying implications for production and hence economic viability.
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The mining industry produces very large quantities of fine-grained tailings that are generally disposed of in slurry form into dedicated impoundments. The twofold purpose of these impoundments is to contain the solids and achieve clarification of the process water for re-use. They are increasingly scrutinized with respect to their environmental performances, since they have impacts on both water availability and quality mainly through water exchanges with the aquifer, and with respect to the mechanical stability of their tailings. Currently, it is difficult to have such information through on-line measures. In this article, the authors present a simulation environment for water management in tailings impoundment. It is concluded that computer simulation is a powerful tool for an environmental standpoint as well as for assisting professionals with design and operation of tailings ponds.
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The sulphidic tailings dumps at Matchless (Namibia) and Selebi-Phikwe (Botswana) are located in a similar semiarid environment but have a contrasting mineralogical composition. The Matchless tailings are pyrite-rich, whereas the Selebi-Phikwe tailings are dominated by pyrrhotite. Hydrochemical models are established with computer codes for water-balance, sulphide oxidation rate and hydrochemical equilibrium calculations. The data input is based on detailed mineralogical, chemical and kinetic investigations carried out on the core of boreholes drilled in 2000 and 2003. The oxidation of pyrrhotite proceeds at a much faster rate than the oxidation of pyrite. The PYROX code, which is used for kinetic calculations, can take these differences into account by applying different oxide-coating diffusion coefficients (D2) for pyrrhotite and pyrite. Humidity-cell testing is widely used to predict the post-mining composition of drainage water in humid climates. However, the semiarid conditions at Matchless and Selebi-Phikwe only allow a minimal water flux within the dump. Under such conditions, humidity-cell testing is likely to overestimate the seepage-water pH. This is suggested by the hydrochemical equilibrium calculations for the post-mining period at Selebi-Phikwe, which predict a seepage-water pH about one unit lower than the pH at the end of the 26-weeks humidity-cell testing period. The acidity of the seepage water can be reduced by about half a pH unit, if an oxygen barrier below the evaporation zone is installed. A clay layer 0.5 m thick covered by >1.5 m tailings represents the optimal design for a wet barrier. All three computer codes used for water-balance calculations (HELP3, UNSAT-H and HYDRUS-1D), predict >85% average water saturation for such a layer, which diminishes the diffusion of oxygen into the pile and production of SO 4−2 and H+. The alternative design for a dry barrier consists of a vegetated silt layer 1 m thick on top of the tailings. This barrier does not significantly influence the diffusion of oxygen although it reduces the net infiltration to ≤11 mm/year.
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Unprecedented expansion of coal mining in Australia is occurring within the context of a severe ongoing drought. This has induced more companies to adopt improved water management strategies, such as water reuse. A direct consequence of this is an increase in the salt concentration of the water, which affects in turn the efficiency of the coal preparation processes, the quality of the coal product, and the level of required equipment maintenance. There are three strategies that can be adopted with respect to salt management: accept the elevated salt concentrations and increase spending on equipment maintenance; remove the salt by desalination; and dilute the salt by importing more water. A tool is required to predict the salt concentrations arising from water reuse and to simulate the impact of potential management strategies. This paper presents a systems approach to the modelling of coupled mine site water and salt balances to assist with understanding the implications of implementing desalination or dilution and with assessing the costs and benefits of each option.
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In recent years, concerns about the sustainability and social responsibility (CSR) of businesses have become an increasingly high profile issue in many countries and industries, none more so than the mining industry. For mining, one outcome of the CSR agenda is the increasing need for individual companies to justify their existence and document their performance through the disclosure of social and environmental information. This paper explores recent trends in the reporting of such impacts and issues in the global mining industry. It offers a detailed review of the development of the media of social and environmental disclosure in the mining industry, and of the factors that drive the development of such disclosure. A temporal analysis of the recent trends in disclosure using a case study of the world's 10 largest mining companies is presented. Whilst there is evidence of increasing sophistication in the development of social and environmental disclosure, there is considerable variation in the maturity of reporting content and styles of these companies. The paper offers a simple classification of reporting companies, from ‘leaders’ to ‘laggards’. Stronger leadership and co-operation from the top reporting companies is necessary to support the laggards of the industry.
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Models are increasingly being relied upon to inform and support natural resource management. They are incorporating an ever broader range of disciplines and now often confront people without strong quantitative or model-building backgrounds. These trends imply a need for wider awareness of what constitutes good model-development practice, including reporting of models to users and sceptical review of models by users. To this end the paper outlines ten basic steps of good, disciplined model practice. The aim is to develop purposeful, credible models from data and prior knowledge, in consort with end-users, with every stage open to critical review and revision. Best practice entails identifying clearly the clients and objectives of the modelling exercise; documenting the nature (quantity, quality, limitations) of the data used to construct and test the model; providing a strong rationale for the choice of model family and features (encompassing review of alternative approaches); justifying the techniques used to calibrate the model; serious analysis, testing and discussion of model performance; and making a resultant statement of model assumptions, utility, accuracy, limitations, and scope for improvement. In natural resource management applications, these steps will be a learning process, even a partnership, between model developers, clients and other interested parties.
Article
Models are increasingly being relied upon to inform and support natural resource management. They are incorporating an ever broader range of disciplines and now often confront people without strong quantitative or model-building backgrounds. These trends imply a need for wider awareness of what constitutes good model-development practice, including reporting of models to users and sceptical review of models by users. To this end the paper outlines ten basic steps of good, disciplined model practice. The aim is to develop purposeful, credible models from data and prior knowledge, in consort with end-users, with every stage open to critical review and revision. Best practice entails identifying clearly the clients and objectives of the modelling exercise; documenting the nature (quantity, quality, limitations) of the data used to construct and test the model; providing a strong rationale for the choice of model family and features (encompassing review of alternative approaches); justifying the techniques used to calibrate the model; serious analysis, testing and discussion of model performance; and making a resultant statement of model assumptions, utility, accuracy, limitations, and scope for improvement. In natural resource management applications, these steps will be a learning process, even a partnership, between model developers, clients and other interested parties.
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A review of literature published in 2008 and early 2009 on research related to the production of acid mine drainage and/or in the dissolution of minerals as a result of mining, with special emphasis on the effects of these phenomena on the water quality in the surrounding environment, is presented. This review is divided into six sections: 1) Site Characterization and Assessment, 2) Protection, Prevention, and Restoration, 3) Toxicity Assessment, 4) Environmental Fate and Transport, 5) Biological Characterization, and 6) Treatment Technologies. Because there is much overlap in research areas associated with minerals and mine drainage, many papers presented in this review can be classified into more than one category, and the six sections should not be regarded as being mutually-exclusive, nor should they be thought of as being all-inclusive.
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Recent developments in modelling overland flow and soil erosion, which permit the consilidation of soil surface characteristics, are reviewed. The models of overland flow are found to be sensitive to soil surface micro-topography and surface pore structure. The former affects depressional storage and hydraulic routing and the latter soil hydraulic properties, notably infiltration rate. The models of soil erosion by water are found to be sensitive to surface roughness, strength and the aggregate size distribution, and the deposition characteristics, of the eroded sediment. Methods for describing the roughness of a soil surface are described and the links to the above processes discussed. The implications of new techniques of roughness measurement for this area of research are briefly examined. It is concluded that the new models of erosion and overland flow provide a more realistic description of the influence of soil surface characteristics than previous semi-empirical models. The review identified the case of large form roughness and shallow flow as a poorly described regime. It was also concluded that the relationship between structural degradation and surface roughness warranted investigation.
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 Contaminative mine drainage waters have become one of the major hydrogeological and geochemical problems arising from mankind's intrusion into the geosphere. Mine drainage waters in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom are of three main types: (1) saline formation waters; (2) acidic, heavy-metal-containing, sulphate waters derived from pyrite oxidation, and (3) alkaline, hydrogen-sulphide-containing, heavy-metal-poor waters resulting from buffering reactions and/or sulphate reduction. Mine waters are not merely to be perceived as problems, they can be regarded as industrial or drinking water sources and have been used for sewage treatment, tanning and industrial metals extraction. Mine-water problems may be addressed by isolating the contaminant source, by suppressing the reactions releasing contaminants, or by active or passive water treatment. Innovative treatment techniques such as galvanic suppression, application of bactericides, neutralising or reducing agents (pulverised fly ash-based grouts, cattle manure, whey, brewers' yeast) require further research.
Article
Discharges of contaminated groundwater from abandoned deep mines are a major environmental problem in many parts of the world. While process-based models of pollutant generation have been successfully developed for certain surface mines and waste rock piles of relatively simple geometry and limited areal extent, such models are not readily applicable to large systems of laterally extensive, interconnected, abandoned deep mines. As a first approximation for such systems, hydrological and lithological factors, which can reasonably be expected to influence pollutant release, have been assessed by empirically assessing data from 81 abandoned deep coal mine discharges in the UK. These data demonstrate that after flooding of a deep mine is complete and groundwater begins to migrate from the mine voids into surface waters or adjoining aquifers, flushing of the mine voids by fresh recharge results in a gradual improvement in the quality of groundwater (principally manifested as decreasing Fe concentrations and stabilisation of pH around 7). Alternative representations of the flushing process have been examined. While elegant analytical solutions of the advection–dispersion equation can be made to mimic the changes in iron concentration, parameterisation is tendentious in practice. Scrutiny of the UK data suggest that to a first approximation, the duration of the main period of flushing can be predicted to endure around four times as long as the foregoing process of mine flooding. Short- and long-term iron concentrations (i.e. at the start of the main period of flushing and after its completion, respectively) can be estimated from the sulphur content of the worked strata. If strata composition data are unavailable, some indication of pollution potential can be obtained from considerations of the proximity of worked strata to marine beds (which typically have high pyrite contents). The long-term concentrations of iron in a particular discharge can also be approximated on the basis of the proximity of the discharge location to the outcrop of the most closely associated coal seam (MCACS) and, thus, to zones of possible ongoing pyrite oxidation. The practical application of these simple predictive techniques is facilitated by means of a flowchart.
Article
The Australian water balance model (AWBM) is a catchment water balance model that calculates runoff from rainfall at daily or hourly time increments. The daily version iss used for water yield and water management studies; the hourly version is used for design flood estimation. This paper describes the origin and development of the AWBM beginning with elementary modelling components of saturation overland flow. A particular feature of the AWBM is the development of model-specific calibration procedures based on the model structure, including a graphical analysis of rainfall and runoff data, multiple linear regression and an automatic self-calibrating procedure. Application of the model for daily streamflow simulation is illustrated using data from 19 catchments located across Australia. Application at hourly time steps for design flood estimation is demonstrated on three catchments in Victoria. A procedure for use of the model to estimate daily streamflows on ungauged catchments is illustrated using the 19 catchments from the water yield study. Applications of the model in several research programs are described.
CEO Minerals Council of Australia. National Press Club
  • M H Hooke
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Water management at Capcoal minedpast, present and future drivers for sustainable change. In: Proceedings of the Water in Mining Conference
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McIntosh, J.C., Merritt, J.L., 2006. Water management at Capcoal minedpast, present and future drivers for sustainable change. In: Proceedings of the Water in Mining Conference. Publication Series No 7/2006. The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Brisbane, pp. 339e350. November 2006. MMSD, 2002. Breaking New Ground: the Report of the Mining, Minerals, and Sustainable Development Project, May 2002. Earthscan Publications Ltd, 410 pp.
Risk-based water management e practical appli-cation for serious management
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McIntosh, J.C., Merritt, J.L., 2003. Risk-based water management e practical appli-cation for serious management. In: Proceedings of the Water in Mining Conference. Publication Series No 8/2003. The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Brisbane, pp. 57e64. October 2003.
Evaluating the costs and benefits of mine sites salt management strategies using a systems model Estimation of runoff rates for small Queensland catchments
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Publication Series No 7 The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy The Australian water balance model Numerical simulation: a performing tool for water management in tailings impoundments
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In: Proceedings of the Water in Mining Conference. Publication Series No 7/ 2006. The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Brisbane, pp. 151e158. November 2006. Boughton, W., 2004. The Australian water balance model. Environmental Modelling and Software 19 (10), 943e956. Bru, K., Guezennec, A.-G., Bourgeois, F., 2008. Numerical simulation: a performing tool for water management in tailings impoundments. In: Rapantova, N., Hrkal, Z. (Eds.), Proceedings of 10th International Mine Water Association Congress, Karlsbad, Czech Republic 2008. Technical University of Ostrava.
RORB Version 4 Runoff Routing Program User Manual. Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University Minerals and mine drainage Advances in reactive-transport modelling of contaminant release and attenuation from mine-waste deposits
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  • Thomson Liang
}}WP Software, 1994. RAFTS-XP Runoff and Flow Training Simulation
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}}Like liquid gold - towards a resource industry position on water In: Publication Series No 7 The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
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  • Boughton
}}Risk-based water management - practical application for serious management The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
  • Merritt Mcintosh
}}RORB Version 4 Runoff Routing Program User Manual
  • Mein Laurenson
}}Water management at Capcoal mine-past, present and future drivers for sustainable change The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
  • Merritt Mcintosh