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Computer visual simulations and surface mine closure : three case studies Ellsworth, John C.
Computer visual simulations are used to portray proposed landscape changes with true color and photo-realistic quality. This technical paper presents three case studies of surface mining operations where computer visual simulations were used in the design and planning of mining and reclamation. The Florida Canyon Gold Mine in central Nevada is in the process of planning for closure within the next five years. As part of the revegetation, recontouring, and visual impact analysis of the closure plan, the consulting landscape architects developed a series of 16 computer visual simulations, from four Key Observation Points (KOP's), for two alternative mining and reclamation options. The Black Pine Mine in southern Idaho is a gold mining operation adjacent to an interstate highway. Computer visual simulations were developed which accurately and realistically depict the mining operations and reclamation for a five to ten year time frame. These images were successfully used in the EIS and permitting process. They were developed by the consulting landscape architects and the landscape architect from the Sawtooth National Forest. The Barrick Mercur gold mine is located in west central Utah. The mine has been in operation since the turn of the century. The consultants were asked to develop computer visual simulations showing the proposed re-contouring and revegetation of the major heap leach dump and for the administrative and ore processing facilities for a five to ten year time frame. The grading design and computer visual simulation images were developed by the consulting landscape architects and were used in the closure permitting process. This illustrated paper describes the development criteria, process, and use of computer visual simulations on these three projects. The issues of computer visual simulation accuracy, bias, credibility, ethics, and realism are discussed. The use of computer visual simulations as a tool in the planning and design of surface mining operations is presented, along with discussion of their use in project permitting and public involvement. The importance of visual simulations in reclamation, revegetation, and erosion control is discussed.
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