Mining Hydrogeology

By Darrel Dunn, Ph.D., PG, Hydrogeologist

(View Résumé 🔳)

Mining hydrogeology is the application of hydrogeology to the successive stages of mining projects.  These stages may include:

During the feasibility stages, hydrogeologic studies should be performed if the cost of dealing with water issues is likely to be significant during the permitting and later stages.  These issues may include:

Adequate feasibility assessment can be very important, because a misleading assessment can result in rejection of a viable mining project or, conversely, further expenditure on a non-viable project.

During the scoping feasibility study, the hydrogeologic assessment of requirements for dealing with water issues may be based on pre-existing data and comparison with similar existing mines, if any.  For dewatering assessment, a "large well" analog might be used along with hydraulic conductivities derived from existing well specific capacity data.

If the scoping feasibility study does not eliminate the project, the ensuing preliminary feasibility study may be based on recommendations for data collection and analysis in the scoping study.  Some hydrological data may be collected in conjunction with early geological exploratory work.  More realistic hydrologic modeling might be used, such as analytic element modeling and analytic stream depletion calculations.

If the preliminary feasibility study does not eliminate the project, a detailed feasibility will include any hydrologic data collection recommended in the preliminary feasibility study, such as:

The detailed feasibility study may include numerical groundwater flow modeling to evaluate dewatering scenarios and surface water depletion.

If the detailed feasibility study does not eliminate the project, pre-mining hydrogeologic activities may include:

During the mine construction and the extraction phase, hydrogeologic activity may include:

Mine closure may include: