British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Environmental management plans : a key tool in ensuring successful long-term environmental management at closed mine sites with ML/ARD Bellefontaine, K.; Price, William A.


Mine sites with metal leaching and acid rock drainage (ML/ARD) or the potential for ML/ARD often require long-term mitigation, monitoring and operator vigilance to ensure environmental protection. One of the biggest challenges to meeting long-term environmental protection goals is retaining the collective corporate, regulatory and community memory of the site conditions, the previous mining activities and the mitigation requirements. There is an increasing need for comprehensive, formalized plans to deal with the long-term management of mine sites with ML/ARD. The establishment of a comprehensive Environmental Management Plan (EMP) can be an extremely important and powerful tool to ensuring long-term environmental protection. The key goal of an EMP is to document key aspects of a mine site that are important to its successful management. An EMP should allow for the tracking of important changes to components of the system, with the purpose of guiding site management and site management decisions. An EMP should also be a living document that is continuously used, improved and updated. Five key components of an EMP are background data, an assessment of risks, monitoring programs, contingency plans and the resources required to implement contingencies. The specific contents of an EMP will be different for every mine site depending on the ML/ARD mitigation strategies used and the characteristics of the site. The example of a water cover over reactive wastes to minimize ML/ARD is provided to illustrate the types of information required for an EMP. Several closed mines in British Columbia are in the process of developing EMPs. The Island Copper mine has documented important site information and has undertaken several research projects aimed at assessing risks and reducing the uncertainties associated with a non-traditional treatment system for ML/ARD. A series of manuals have also been developed to address other key aspects of on-going site management. The development of comprehensive EMPs is clearly in the interests of all stakeholders. These plans will aid mining companies in demonstrating that their mines will continue to be operated in a diligent and effective manner. It also gives comfort to neighbouring communities that environmental protection needs can continue to be met long into the future.

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