British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Site specific testing for sediment pond design at mine sites to lower the risk exceeding discharge total suspended solids and turbidity Clark, J. P.


A literature search for best management practice guidelines for site specific design and operation of sediment ponds revealed few papers describing site specific testing of soils. Sediment pond discharge quality is primarily related to climatology, geology, soils, vegetation, topography, hydrology, erosion control, pond area, and application of settling aids, and the application/implementation of sediment related management plans. Accurate prediction/characterization of how the soils will behave in the sediment pond is recommended by performing particle size analyses and appropriate settling tests on prepared representative soil suspensions. The timing for performing these tests relative to an Environmental Assessment (EA) process is discussed so that an erosion control management plan and a sediment pond management plan are developed prior to entering the EA process. This allows regulators to: (a) accurately assess these sediment-related issues; (b) provide support to the subsequent effluent permitting phase; and (c) accelerate effluent permitting within the current context of the “One Project, One Process” initiative with relatively low environmental risk. Balance and linkage between the erosion control and sediment pond management plans should incorporate design features to complement each other to lower the risk of exceeding mine discharge and receiving water quality standards.

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