GOVERNMENT VERSUS VOLUNTARY SEDIMENT POND DESIGN STANDARDS AND ACHIEVING DISCHARGE/RECEIVING WATER QUALITY FOR TOTAL SUSPENDED SOLIDS AT MINE SITES

World Mining Congress
Keeping the sediment on the mine site and out of the water course is essential from the regulatory, environmental and sustainability perspectives. Regulation of this aspect of mining is embedded in environmental legislation and government receiving water quality standards, and government control has apparently been considered to be the most appropriate method to define mine site discharge standards and the environmental implications of sediment in downstream watercourses. A literature search for guidelines for the site specific design and operation of sediment ponds treating mine site runoff to remove total suspended solids, turbidity and flocculant-induced toxicity, revealed little information on the mining industry’s and government’s roles in defining the “how to achieve” related to sediment pond design. Is there a need or reason for an industry-driven leadership to clearly define the “how to” keep the sediment on the mine site and out of the water course? Currently, this issue is addressed in Canada by a federal mining regulation for metal mines which specifies discharge quality for sediment. This paper focuses on the method used in British Columbia, Canada, to regulate and provide a scientific methodology to control the discharge of sediment from mine sites. Management plans relative to this topic are discussed and are considered to have value from the exploration, construction, operation and the onset of closure phases. In addition, the balance and linkage between the erosion control management plan and the sediment pond management plan are discussed in terms of how they may be designed to complement each other to lower the risk of exceeding discharge and receiving water quality standards. If there were an industry-driven standard, or guidance document relative to addressing sediment release, it would benefit mining companies by eliminating the repetitive analysis of this topic for each new mine, mine expansion, and mine modification; also, government may often replace certain aspects of permitting with a regulation, if there is a government/industry established standard defining Best Achievable Technology (e.g. the Canadian Metal Mining Effluent Regulations).
Keywords: sediments; Flocculants; particles; Mine; Mines; Additions; Soils; Soil; Management;
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