British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Reclaimed closure landscapes : the importance and benefits of operations maintenance and monitoring Fair, J. M.; Pollard, J.; McKenna, G.


The process of landform design of closure landscapes and watersheds can be divided into a seven step process; conceptual closure planning design, individual landform design, individual landform construction, final closure plan design, final closure plan construction, monitoring and operation, and closure. As part of recent work on landform design and construction for open pit mines, several constructed projects have progressed into the monitoring and operations phase. This phase is important for assessing the performance of the landform to compare to the proposed landform design goals and objectives, for preparation for final closure, and potentially for closure certification. This paper presents a call to action for undertaking this phase of the landform design process with skill, creativity, and effective organization. We provide some useful tools and some lessons learned which highlight where this aspect of landform design is being undertaken successfully and where it could be improved upon. There are three separate components to the monitoring and operation step of landform design; operation, maintenance, and monitoring. The scope of each of these will depend on the individual landform design and what purpose it is designed for. For example, for an instrumented research watershed the level of effort will be high with respect to managing water levels, maintaining access, fixing outlets, and undertaking research monitoring to assess performance. At the other end of the scale, for a small opportunistic wetland or a small waste dump, operation and maintenance may be negligible and monitoring may be limited to an annual inspection. As part of this paper we provide a table of important operation, maintenance, and monitoring activities as well as roles and schedules for both an upland and a lowland setting which can be used as a tool for this phase of design. We also discuss the intricacies involved in some typical monitoring and operating activities such as outlet operation, water balances, post construction landscape fixes, and methods to simplify the entire process.

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