Climate and Hydrology Data Collection for Northern Mine Development

CIM Edmonton 2004
Hugh R. Wilson, Gary R. Ash,
Abstract Climate and hydrology data are required during all phases of mining projects, including impact assessment, mine planning and design, operational water management and mine closure and reclamation design. In the Canadian north, data sources are spatially sparse and often short-term in nature, and design parameters are often estimated based on data collected at sites hundreds of kilometres distant. Confidence in such data can be increased by verification or modification using data collected during properly implemented baseline and operational monitoring programs. A data set that accurately reflects conditions at the mine site is more readily accepted by regulatory agencies during the permitting process, and allows development of more effective and economic water management and environmental mitigation and compensation plans.

Climate and hydrology data requirements for mine development are reviewed, along with methods for developing an adequate data set. These are illustrated using examples from oil sands, coal, diamond and metal mines in northern Alberta and British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Particular emphasis is placed on applications to mine permitting, including impact assessment and development of fisheries compensation and mitigation plans, to operational water management, including stream diversion, water supply and wastewater disposal, and to closure drainage design.
Keywords: Hydrological Monitoring, Climatic Monitoring, Regulatory Permitting, Closure Drainage, Fish Habitat Compensation, Water supply, Wastewater Disposal, environmental impact assessment, Baseline Study, Mine Water Management
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