Jack Caldwell - Mining Engineer - Robertson GeoConsultants

Here is a link to a presentation made today at the Mine Water Solutions in Extreme Environments conference by Christoph Wels of RGC. We have worked together over the past six or seven years on the issues he addresses in this presentation. But he must take the credit for the ideas, the hard work, the intellectual stamina, and now the presentation.

He deals with the knotty issue of modeling the water balance of a tailings impoundment. He shows that it is not enough to simply consider the equation of water in, less water out, is equal to change of storage. He shows that you need to do that, but in addition need to delve deep into the question of the beach water behaviour in order to quantify makeup water requirements; and in addition you need to delve deep into the issue of consolidation in order to quantify impact on groundwater.

Take a look at his presentation and pay particular attention to the photos of the development of lobes on the beaches; it is these which control the immediate loss of water and hence dictate the quantity of makeup water.

Sadly there is no one authoritative technical paper on the ideas in his presentation; you will simply have to contact him to learn more.

The physical processes that Christoph talks about are random, chaotic systems at work. You can read much more about the basic physical process in the book Modeling River Delta Formations by Hansjorg Seybold.

So I went to lunch with Franco and Cesar Oboni, a father and son team specializing in risk and complex systems. Here is a link to their blog where you will find many an erudite discussion of these things.

I am trying to persuade them to turn their penetrating minds to the issues of mine water balance and tailing facility performance. Maybe they can bring mathematical logic to the beach formation patterns that Christoph shows.

And finally for today: just when you thought you knew of all eight conferences and events on mine water management, another appears. Today a flyer from inSIGHT appeared on my desk. They are organizing a conference on Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability in Mining, and include presentations on mine water management as a corporate social responsibility issue.

I would like to hear the presentation by Bill Williams, Vice President of Barrick Gold on Addressing Water Challenges in Corporate Social Responsibility. But I am to a mine site that day to inspect the real world.