British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

How long is long enough? : Robust timeframes for reclamation monitoring Baisley, A.; Tallon, L.


Post closure monitoring is a common requirement for mines worldwide. Following completion of closure activities, monitoring is undertaken to document and evaluate the effectiveness of closure activities in meeting closure objectives and success criteria. Monitoring is carried out with a focus on elements that remain post-closure, and on areas where there is an expectation or risk of impacts. Effective management of reclamation risk requires a deliberate approach to understanding, assessing, and responding to potential impacts at a site-specific level. What is the best approach in determining monitoring timeframes to reduce uncertainty in reclamation performance? Monitoring periods are often pre-prescribed by regulations or left to proponents to determine. Monitoring timeframes need to be defensible but are largely an exercise in addressing perceived risk from regulators or stakeholder groups. Typically, the greater the perceived risk and potential uncertainty, the longer the monitoring period stipulated by regulators. Risk defined without process forms the crux of the problem in setting realistic monitoring periods. A deeper understanding of potential perceived risks with respect to specific potential failure modes is therefore required. Monitoring periods should be determined based on temporal scales of the mechanisms and processes involved in potential failure modes to address and constrain variability of parameters measured. Climate is frequently the most influencing factor for reclamation performance, largely manifested through getting the “right” water balance to interact with the materials and vegetation specified in the future land use. It forms the “uncontrollable” variable in the success equation that carries with it the greatest risk to closure designs. In this paper, two case studies are presented, one from Northern Alberta, the other from Australia with vastly different climates but similar water related closure objectives. Empirical Mode Decomposition is one such tool used to help define meaningful monitoring periods for these sites.

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