British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Water quality and its control in mining areas Howie, Hank 1980-02-17

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th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  WATER QUALITY AND ITS CONTROL IN MINING AREAS  by  H. Howie Waste Management Branch Ministry of Environment  115  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  WATER QUALITY AND ITS CONTROL IN MINING AREAS Normally,  mining  operations  will  cause  some  deterioration  to  the  quality of the associated surface water and groundwater. However, with good mining practices, including careful control of mining discharges and proper reclamation, the resulting water quality can usually be made acceptable for discharge into the receiving environment. Control of water quality is the responsibility of the Pollution Control Section of the  Waste  Management  Branch  and  the  Regional  Operations  Division,  acting under the jurisdiction of the Pollution Control Act and Regulations. This control is accomplished with Pollution Control effluent Permits which authorize effluent discharges of a specified quantity and quality from mining operations, and which require regular monitoring to assure that such quality is being maintained. All effluent discharges from mining  operations  not  authorized  by  Pollution  Control  Permits  are  illegal. To guide the Director of Pollution Control in his assessment of effluent  discharges  from  mining  operations  and  in  his  granting  of  effluent Permits to authorize such discharges, the Pollution Control Board  has  issued  the  Pollution  Control  Objectives  for  the  Mining,  Smelting, and Related Industries of British Columbia. These Objectives are based on earlier (1973) Objectives which were reviewed and amended in 1979 to include experience gained with the earlier Objectives, and input from public meetings held in six centres around the province, and a public inquiry held in Victoria in 1978. (I have several copies of the amended Objectives on hand should anyone wish a copy, and if the limited supply is insufficient, I will take your name and address and send you a copy.) I would now like to refer to Table IV and Table V of these amended Objectives which particularly relate to water quality. Table IV (Slide No. 1) outlines the receiving water control objectives which would 117  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  Slide No. I/Table IV B. DISCHARGES TO WATER RECEIVING WATER CONTROL OBJECTIVES (1)  Parameter  Level _________  Dissolved oxygen  Not less than 90% of the seasonal natural value  Temperature  To be within 10C of the natural level  Turbidity  Not more than 5 JTU above the natural  Floatable solids  None  pH  No Change  Toxicity (96 hr static bioassay)  value  Below detectable limit  Colour  No change  Aesthetics  No decrease  Alkalinity (2)  Not less than 20% natural value  Chloride  Not more than 25 mg/L  Fecal coliforms (3)  (1) (2) (3)  118  Not to exceed Ministry of Health standards  Applicable outside the initial dilution zone. Not applicable to marine discharge. Applicable only when sanitary discharge is mixed with effluent.  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  normally apply to the neighboring stream, river, lake, or ocean and which, in turn, would normally be monitored in a manner that would determine the effect of the mining operations on this receiving environment. This monitoring would be one of the requirements of the effluent Permit, and normally would include regular monitoring of the neighboring stream(s) upstream and downstream of the mining operations, and the periodic reporting of such monitoring. The details of the required monitoring are site specific and are determined in the assessment process. Examples will be discussed later in this presentation. Table V (Slide No. 2) outlines the objectives for the discharge of final effluents to marine and fresh waters. These objectives apply to the discharge of treated mine effluents to receiving waters, such as the effluent discharges from tailings ponds, settling ponds, or other treatment  works  to  neighboring  streams,  etc.,  but  which  are  not  "closed-circuit", that is, totally recycled to operations. Each final effluent discharged from a mine-mill complex or a mine-cleaning plant complex is authorized by Permit, usually as one appendix of a comprehensive effluent Permit for the entire complex. One  requirement  of  this  effluent  Permit  is  normally  the  regular  monitoring of the significant parameters of each separate discharge and the periodic reporting of such monitoring, some or all of which is transferred to the Government computer bank. At intervals, these data are retrieved and statistically analyzed and serve as part of a Permit review process which results in an amended Permit and which, in turn, may require changes to the pollution control treatment, Permit monitoring, etc. I would like to mention that Table V Objectives give a range of values for each parameter, whereas the earlier (1973) Objectives presented three levels for each parameter. The philosophy behind the earlier Objectives was to recognize existing operations, many of which required upgrading to move from Level C, through Level B, to the desirable Level A. The philosophy behind the present Objectives is to present a  119  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  generally acceptable range for each parameter, but to allow the choice of each parameter value to be site specific based on the assimilative capacity  of  the  environment  and  other  considerations.  However,  a  modified Table V, which includes "Old Level A" (Slide No. 3) shows that the "Old Level A" is usually similar to the low end of the "new range". I would now like to briefly review examples of several different types of mining operations in British Columbia, and indicate their methods of effluent control and their required monitoring programs. 1. Western Mines Ltd, is an example of a base metal underground mine and concentrator with discharge of tailings slurry at depth to a lake, and with collection and treatment of minewater and surface runoff  by  settling  ponds.  The  regular  monitoring  required  by  Permit is as follows: - the tailings slurry is monitored for flow, pH, suspended solids, dissolved sulphate, total cyanide, residual chlorine, and both total and dissolved metals (Cu, Pb, Zn); - the receiving water (Buttle Lake) is biologically monitored and fish tissue is analyzed for metals; - the settling  ponds  supernatants  and nearby  streams are  monitored for pH, suspended solids, dissolved sulphate, total cyanide and total mercury, and dissolved metals (Cu, Pb, Zn, As, Cd). 2.  Utah Mines Ltd, is an example of a base metal open pit mine concentrator with discharge of tailings slurry at depth to ocean, and with collection and treatment of minewater.  and the The  regular monitoring required by Permit is as follows: - the tailings slurry is monitored for flow, pH, suspended solids, temperature, total cyanide and total mercury, dissolved metals 120  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  Slide No. 2/Table V OBJECTIVES FOR THE DISCHARGE OF FINAL EFFLUENTS TO MARINE ANU FRESH WATERS Parameter_____________________________ (mg/L dissolved in effluent unless otherwise stated) (5) Total suspended solids (1) (2) Total dissolved solids Toxicity (96 hr LC 50 static bioassay) (3) pH (pH Units) Radioactivity: (6) Gross Alpha pCi/L Radiun£2° pCi/L (dissolved in effluent passing through a 3 ym filter) Specific elements and compounds: Aluminum (Al) Ammonia (as N) Antimony (Sb) Arsenic (as trivalent As) Arsenic (total dissolved) Cadmium (Cd) Chromium (Cr) Cobalt (Co) Copper (Cu) Cyanide (as CN) Fluoride (F) Iron (Fe) Lead (Pb) Manganese (Mn) Mercury (Total) (Hg) (4) Molybdenum (Mo) Nickel (Mi) Nitrite/Nitrate (as N) Phosphate (Total P biologically available in effluent) Selenium (Se) Silver (Ag) Uranyl (UO2) Zinc (Zn) Oil and Grease (Total) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)  ___ Range ______  25 2,500 100% 6.5-8.5  75 5,000 80% 6.5-10  10  100  less  than 10  0.5 1.0 0.25 0.05 0.10 0.01 0.05 0.5 0.05 0.1 2.5 0.3 0.05 0.1 Nil 0,5 0.2 10.0  1.0 10.0 1.0 0.25 1.0 0.1 0.3 1.0 0.3 0.5 10.0 1.0 0.2 1.0 0.005 5.0 1.0 25.0  2.0 0.05 0.05 2.0 0.2 10.0  10.0 0.5 0.5 5.0 1.0 15.0  Not applicable to approved direct discharge of tailings solids. Variances may be allowed during periods of excess runoff. Bioassay on salmonid species. Natural background concentration will be assessed. Analysis for Total Elements in tailings may be required prior to and during operations and the Director wouldgive consideration to this information when issuing a permit. To apply to operations where the objective is not the mining of radioactive ores.  121  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  Slide No. 3/Table V OBJECTIVES FOR THE DISCHARGE OF FINAL EFFLUENTS TO MARINE AND FRESH WATERS  Parameter___________________________ (mg/L dissolved in effluent unless otherwise stated) (5) Total suspended solids (1) (2) Total dissolved sol-ids Toxicity (96 hr LC 50 static bioassay)(3) pH (pH Units) Radioactivity: (6) Gross Alpha pCi/L Radium225 pCi/L (dissolved in effluent passing through a 3 pro filter) Specific elements and compounds: Aluminum (Al) Ammonia (as N) Antimony (Sb) Arsenic (as trivalent As) Arsenic (total dissolved) Cadmium (Cd) Chromium (Cr) Cobalt (Co) Copper (Cu) Cyanide (as CN) Fluoride (F) Iron (Fe) Lead (Pb) Manganese (Mn) Mercury (Total) (Hg) (4) Molybdenum (Mo) Nickel (Ni) Nitrite/Nitrate (as N) Phosphate (Total P biologically available in effluent) Selenium (Se) Silver (Ag) Uranyl (UO2) Zinc (Zn) Oil and Grease (Total) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) 122  “Old” _______Range _______Level A  25 2,500 100% 6.5-8.5 10  75 50 5,000 <2,500 80% 100% 6.5-10 6.5-8.5 100  -  less than 10  -  0.5 1.0 0.25 0.05 0.10 0.01 0.05 0.5 0.05 0.1 2.5 0.3 0.05 0.1 Nil 0.5 0.2 10.0  1.0 10.0 1.0 0.25 1.0 0.1 0.3 1.0 0.3 0.5 10.0 1.0 0.2 1.0 0.005 5.0 1.0 25.0  0.05 0.005 0.05 0.10 0.05 0.10 2.50 0.30 0.05 0.05 0.001 0.5 0.3 10.0  2.0 0.05 0.05 2.0 0.2 10.0  10.0 0.5 0.5 5.0 1.0 15.0  2.0 0.05 0.10 2.0 0.5 15.0  Not applicable to approved direct discharge of tailings solids. Variances may be allowed during periods of excess runoff. Bioassay on salmonid species. Natural background concentration will be assessed. Analysis for Total Elements in tailings may be required prior to and during operations and the Director would give consideration to this information when issuing a permit. To apply to operations where the objective is not the mining of radioactive ores.  0.5 0.5 0.25  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  (Cu, Mo, Cd, Cr, Co, Fe, Pb, Mn, Ni, Zn and As) and is also monitored by bioassay tests; - the receiving marine environment is monitored comprehensively for bottom sediment distribution, suspended sediment distribution, and water monitoring for pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, suspended solids, alkalinity, salinity, and dissolved metals (Cu, Mo, Mn, As and Hg); - the receiving marine environment is monitored comprehensively with both plant and animal biological monitoring required; - the surface runoff water (including pit water) is comprehensive ly monitored for pH, temperature, suspended solids, dissolved solids, turbidity, alkalinity, colour, hardness, dissolved oxygen, sulphates, nitrates, and dissolved and total metals (Fe, Cd, Cu, Co, Cr, Mo, Pb, Zn, Ni and Mn). 3. Cominco Sullivan Mine is an example of a base metal underground mine and concentrator with discharge of tailings slurry to tailings ponds, and with collection and treatment of the overflow from the tailings ponds, minewater, and surface runoff before discharging the treated effluent to a stream. The regular monitoring required by Permit is as follows: - the wastewater treatment plant discharge is monitored for flow, pH, suspended solids, turbidity, total phosphate, ammonia (N), dissolved fluoride, oil and grease, and both total and dissolved metals (Fe, Pb, Zn, As) and total Cu, Cd, Mn, and CN; - the receiving water (St. Marys River) is monitored chemically and biologically both upstream and downstream of the treatment plant.  123  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  4.  Gibraltar Mines Ltd, is an example of a base metal open pit mine and concentrator with discharge of tailings slurry to a tailings pond, with recycle of pond supernatant to operations, and with collection and treatment of seepage and surface runoff.  The  regular monitoring required by Permit is as follows: - the flows of tailings slurry, of tailings pond supernatant, of seepage pond supernatant recycled and discharged to Cuisson Creek, and of Cuisson Creek are measured; - the seepage pond supernatant and the receiving water (Cuisson Creek) are monitored for pH, suspended solids, dissolved metals (Cu, Mo, Fe), $04 , and total CN. A bioassay is required on the supernatant prior to its discharge to Cuisson Creek. 5.  Fording Coal Ltd, is an example of an open pit coal mine and cleaning plant with discharge of tailings slurry to a tailings pond, with recycle of pond supernatant to operations, and with collection and treatment of contaminated surface runoff including pit water.  The regular monitoring required by Permit is as  follows: - the tailings slurry and tailings pond supernatant are monitored for flow, pH, suspended solids, and total solids; - the decants from the surface runoff settling ponds and pitwater are monitored for flow, pH, suspended solids, total solids, and oil and grease; - the receiving water (Fording River) is monitored upstream and downstream for pH, suspended solids, total solids, 864" , acidity, alkalinity, turbidity, organic carbon, oil and grease, nitrites/nitrates, and dissolved Fe and Mn.  124  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  A comparison of monitoring in the preceding examples shows that the recieving effluent environment around base metal mines is normally monitored for pH, suspended solids, dissolved metals (normally present in the ore), and total CN (when used); when the tailings slurry is discharged at depth to a lake or ocean more extensive metal monitoring and biota  monitoring  around  coal  nitrates,  are  mines  and  is  certain  required. normally other  The  receiving  monitored  parameters  for  effluent pH,  (which  environment  suspended  normally  solids,  need  to  be  monitored for a short time and then discontinued). In summary, the required water monitoring in the receiving environment around B.C. mines is normally less when tailings supernatant is totally recycled to operations  or  when  tailings  supernatant,  surface  runoff,  etc.  is  treated. In conclusion, I would like to mention two items of interest which are ongoing at the present time. The first item is a cooperative industrygovernment study on the decomposition products of ANFO explosives, which  I  believe  will  complement  similar  studies  being  carried out  separately by some of the mining companies in British Columbia. The industry-government study particularly relates to NH3, nitrites, and nitrates  and  is  being  done  by  Fording  Coal  Ltd.,  the  Water  Investigations Branch, the Waste Management Branch, and the Regional Operations Division (the latter three being in the Ministry of Environment) and is being carried out at the Fording Coal Minesite. Interim  results  would  indicate  that  fairly  significant  amounts  of  nitrates appear to be produced and are to be found in certain runoff streams. I would like to advise that the Water Investigations Branch intends to expand this study to include a review of existing water quality information around mining areas and to determine the amount of explosives that B.C. Mining Companies used in 1979. The second item that I wish to mention is the ongoing preparation of "Guidelines for the Design and Operation of Settling Ponds Used in Mining Areas" which should be useful for both operating and developing  125  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  mines in controlling the level of suspended solids in the surface runoff streams. I have prepared the first draft guidelines, have circulated  them  to  various  Agencies,  Consultants,  etc.,  and  am  now  starting to prepare the final Guidelines for the Director's consideration and approval. I hope that they will be published in the reasonably near future.  126  th  Proceedings of the 4 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  DISCUSSION RELATED TO H. HOWIE'S PAPER C. Guarnaschelli - Hardy Associates Ltd.: I think you mentioned the assimilative capacity of your system. I'm thinking of your field techniques that are represented by a range of values based on assimilative capacity. I have two questions on that: 1) Because I've been involved in past years in the study of assimilative capacity, have you defined any terms like "oxygen volume", "BOD", and things like that; and 2) if I as a consultant have my company ask me to define "assimilative capacity system", would your department  in  the  provincial  government  be  able  to  assess  my  presentation, within reason, on a site-specific basis? Answer: I think the answers to your questions are  "yes", particularly  so with respect to your second question. Yes,  we would, and we do  do such things. And that is normal now. It's  now a site-specific  and assessment type business.  127  

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