British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

The appropriate geochemical monitoring of toe seepage from a mine-rock dump Morin, Kevin A. (Kevin Andrew), 1955-; Horne, Ian A.; Flather, David


Water passing through mine-rock dumps either enters the underlying groundwater system or exits at the toe. For the case of toe seepage, the water is often collected in ditches and diverted out of the area. In light of the variability in flow and chemistry expected in toe seepage, questions arise as to the appropriate monitoring program including, for example, the importance of variable sampling frequency. Alternatively, for many mines in British Columbia, the more important question is "Are we missing anything important by sampling on a routine basis such as monthly?". Rather than answering the question based on theory, this paper answers with actual data from a minesite in British Columbia. At the Island Copper Minesite on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, an ambitious monitoring program of toe seepage took place over a six-month period. Eight stations were monitored basically either (1) once daily for flow and chemistry or (2) hourly for flow and every four hours for chemistry. Based on statistical analyses of data from selected stations, answers are provided for important technical questions, such as monitoring frequency, and for regulatory questions, such as permit limits. In essence, water chemistry can be viewed like hydrology where, for example, yearly concentrations of a 1-hour duration can be determined. This concept is expanded further in an accompanying paper at this symposium using standard monitoring data.

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