CHAPTER 16.1 Site Environmental Considerations Michael G. NelsonINTRODUCTION (ISO) Standard 14001. The second example gives a descrip-Activities associated with mining have direct and lasting tion of surface coal mining regulations in the United States,effects on both the physical and the human environments. The probably some of the most detailed and specific regulationssocial, economic, and political effects in the latter category in existence. The third example describes the permitting andare often considered sustainability issues and are discussed approval process for the Safford mine, located in a historicbriefly in this chapter. Also in the latter category are issues mining area in southern Arizona (United States), and includesof worker health and safety, which are discussed in Part 15 of descriptions of the public input to this process. The fourththis handbook. example describes a successful approach to early involvement Mining includes the following activities, all of which of local communities in mine planning and permitting at thehave distinct impacts on the environment: Diavik diamond mine, which operates in a pristine northern environment where no mining had previously occurred. • Exploration. Economic deposits are identified and their characteristics are determined to allow recovery. HISTORIC MINING PRACTICES • Development. Preparations are made for mining. In the recent past, mining was done with little knowledge of • Extraction. Valuable material is removed for sale or its effects on the environment and, from a modern perspective, processing. with little concern for the effects that were known. The conse- • Reclamation. Disturbances caused by any of the preced- quences of this approach often resulted in significant damage ing activities are corrected or ameliorated. to the natural environment, including (but not limited to) • Closure. Activity ceases and the area is abandoned or returned to another use. • Unreclaimed mine pits, shafts, tunnels, and waste piles that may result in landslides and large amounts of blow- This chapter will address the environmental consider- ing dust;ations incumbent in the development and extraction in some • Surface and groundwater that may be contaminated bydetail, including the permitting process required (in almost all solid particulates and chemical contaminants released byjurisdictions) before mining activities begin. active and abandoned workings, or by waste piles; Environmental regulations vary among the countries • Abandoned pits, shafts, and tunnels that may create poten-of the world. Most large mining companies endeavor to fol- tial falling hazards to humans, livestock, and wildlife;low uniform practices at all their mines, regardless of loca- • Similarly, release of particulates and chemical con-tion, and have publicly committed to follow well-articulated taminants from mine workings or waste and spoil pilesstandards of sustainability, such as those described under that may cause direct injury to or damage the health of“Sustainable Practices” in this chapter. However, because of humans or animals;the variations in regulations, it is difficult to give a detailed • Erosion, with its consequent loss of soil and vegetation indescription of environmental requirements and practices that and around unreclaimed workings, that may be a signifi-applies worldwide. Thus, the focus of this chapter is to give cant problem; anda general description of environmentally sound practices and • Underground workings, current or abandoned, that mayprocedures. Some of the most important are illustrated by spe- cause surface subsidence, which can result in damagedcific examples. The first example shows the approach to envi- surface structures, and in fissures or escarpments that areronmental risk assessment taken by CODELCO (Corporación hazardous to humans and animals (Craig et al. 2001).Nacional del Cobre de Chile), the national copper corpora-tion of Chile, as part of its environmental management plan Examples of these kinds of mining-induced damages areunder the International Organization for Standardization readily found in any historic mining district. In fact, water Michael G. Nelson, Department Chair, Mining Engineering, College of Mines & Earth Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 1643
1644 SME Mining Engineering Handbookcontamination and abandoned waste piles left by ancient • Seek to identify and internalize environmental and socialRoman mining activity in Spain resulted in rediscovery of the costs.ore body on which Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining com- • Maintain and enhance the conditions for viable enterprise.panies in the world, was founded (Raymond 1986). Social sphere In most cases, the environmental damage caused by miningwas not well understood. There were some notable exceptions, • Ensure a fair distribution of the costs and benefits ofsuch as the lawsuit in 1884 by downstream farmers against min- development for all those alive today.ing companies in California’s “Mother Lode” district. By that • Respect and reinforce the fundamental rights of humantime (well after the initial gold rush of 1849) those companies beings, including civil and political liberties, culturalused a method called hydraulicking, in which entire hillsides autonomy, social and economic freedoms, and personalwere washed away with a powerful stream of water so the security.gold-bearing gravels could be processed. The resulting debris • Seek to sustain improvements over time; ensure thatclogged streams and rivers and flooded meadows and fields, depletion of natural resources will not deprive futurecausing serious damage to agriculture (Hill et al. 2001). Other generations through replacement with other forms ofearly environmental lawsuits related to the mining industry capital.were directed at smelter operators by farmers who alleged that Environmental spheresmelter gases were damaging their crops. Such suits were filedin England in 1865 (Brubaker 1995), and in the United States in • Promote responsible stewardship of natural resources andKansas in the 1880s (Junge and Bean 2006) and in Utah in 1903 the environment, including remediation of past damage.(Lamborn and Peterson 1985). While these lawsuits may have • Minimize waste and environmental damage along thebeen driven more by economic concerns than by a pure concern whole of the supply chain.for the environment in the abstract, they certainly addressed • Exercise prudence where impacts are unknown orwhat today would be considered environmental issues. uncertain. The public’s expectations of the mining industry began to • Operate within ecological limits and protect critical natu-change in the 1950s, and by the end of the 1970s, governments ral capital.in developed countries had enacted broad environmental laws Governance spherethat had direct bearing on all industrial activities, includingmining (Kaas and Parr 1992). Although environmental stan- • Support representative democracy, including participa-dards still vary among countries, almost all major mining tory decision making.companies now state as policy that they will operate all their • Encourage free enterprise within a system of clear andmines, regardless of location, to first-world standards of envi- fair rules and incentives.ronmental protection and worker health and safety. • Avoid excessive concentration of power through appro- priate checks and balances.SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES • Ensure transparency through providing all stakeholdersLeading mining companies have recently formulated, and with access to relevant and accurate information.pledged to follow, standards and principles for sustainable • Ensure accountability for decisions and actions, whichdevelopment of mineral resources worldwide. While not all are based on comprehensive and reliable analysis.of these principles relate directly to environmental practices, • Encourage cooperation in order to build trust and sharedthey represent a significant change in approach for the min- goals and values.ing industry as a whole, a change that has already affected • Ensure that decisions are made at the appropriate level,environmental practices in the industry. For that reason, the adhering to the principle of subsidiarity where possible.principles of sustainable development (as applied to mineral In 2001, the board of the metals industry’s representa-extraction) are discussed here. tive organization, the International Council on Metals and the In 1999, nine of the largest mining companies decided Environment agreed to broaden the group’s mandate and trans-to embark on a new initiative intended to achieve a serious form itself into the International Council on Mining and Metalschange in the way industry approached today’s problems. (ICMM).They called this the Global Mining Initiative. It included a In 2002, ICMM member companies signed the Torontoprogram of internal reform, a review of the various associa- Declaration committing ICMM to continue the work startedtions the companies belonged to, and a rigorous study of the by the MMSD project and engage in constructive dialoguesocietal issues they had to face. As a result, the International with key stakeholders, and in 2003, the International CouncilInstitute for Environment and Development was commis- on Mining and Metals committed corporate members to imple-sioned to undertake the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable ment and measure their performance against the ten principlesDevelopment (MMSD) project. shown in Table 16.1-1 (ICMM 2006). Between 2000 and 2002, the MMSD project identi- Initially there was considerable debate in the min-fied critical issues associated with development of mineral ing community regarding the concepts of sustainability asresources in four “spheres”: applied to mineral extraction (NWMA 2002). Some argued that, because mineral resources are by nature finite, mineralEconomic sphere extraction can never be truly sustainable. However, these • Maximize human well-being. concepts have in general been adopted by most of the mining • Ensure efficient use of all resources, natural and other- industry, and they influence corporate practices in all areas of wise, by maximizing rents. mining activity.
1646 SME Mining Engineering HandbookTable 16.1-2 ISO 14001 standardsSystemic requirements e. Emergency situations a. Establish, document, implement, maintain, and continually improve an i. Establish, implement, and maintain procedures for potential environmental management system in accordance with the standard. emergency situations and accidents that could have an impact on thePolicy requirements environment. a. Establish, define, document, implement, maintain, and communicate the ii. Establish, implement, and maintain procedures to respond to actual organization’s environmental policy. emergency situations and accidents that have an impact on thePlanning requirements environment. a. Establish, implement, document, and maintain procedures to identify the iii. Test environmental emergency response procedures. environmental aspects of all activities, products, and services. iv. Respond to actual environmental emergencies and accidents. b. Establish, implement, and maintain procedures to identify and clarify v. Prevent or mitigate the adverse environmental impacts that the legal and other requirements that apply to the organization’s emergencies and accidents can and do cause. environmental aspects. vi. Review and revise environmental emergency preparedness and c. Establish, implement, and maintain environmental objectives and targets. response procedures. d. Establish, implement, and maintain programs to achieve environmental Compliance requirements objectives and targets. a. Measurement and monitoringOperational requirements i. Establish, implement, and maintain procedures to monitor and a. Personnel and resources measure the operational characteristics that could have a significant i. Provide the resources needed to establish, implement, maintain, and impact on the environment. improve the environmental management system. ii. Use and maintain calibrated or verified environmental monitoring and ii. Define, document, and communicate environmental management measuring equipment. roles, responsibilities, and authorities. iii. Keep a record of environmental monitoring and measuring activities. iii. Appoint someone to assume the role of management representative. b. Documentation b. Training i. Establish, implement, and maintain a procedure to periodically i. Ensure competency of those who perform tasks that could have evaluate how well the organization complies with all relevant legal a significant environmental impact by identifying training needs, and other environmental requirements. delivering training programs, and maintaining records of training ii. Record the results of the organization’s legal and other environmental activities. compliance evaluations. ii. Establish, implement, and maintain a procedure to make people c. Dealing with nonconformities aware of the organization’s environmental management system. i. Establish, implement, and maintain nonconformance management c. Communication procedures. i. Establish, implement, and maintain procedures to control ii. Change documents when nonconformities make it necessary. the organization’s internal and external environmental d. Controlling records communications. i. Establish environmental records for the organization. ii. Document the organization’s environmental policy, objectives, and ii. Establish, implement, and maintain procedures to control the targets, and the main parts of its environmental management system. organization’s environmental records. iii. Describe how the parts of the organization’s environmental e. Internal audits management system interact. i. Establish, implement, and maintain an environmental management d. Documents audit program and procedures. i. Control all environmental management documents and records ii. Conduct internal audits of environmental management system. required by the ISO 14001:2004 standard. iii. Report internal audit results to management. ii. Establish, document, implement, and maintain procedures to f. Environmental management reviews. manage and control operational situations that could have significant i. Review the suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness of the environmental impacts. environmental management system. iii. Establish, document, implement, and maintain procedures to control ii. Assess whether or not the organization’s environmental management significant environmental aspects of goods and services provided by system, policy, objectives, or targets should be changed. suppliers and contractors. iii. Keep a record of all environmental reviews.ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS performance for organizations. However, ISO certification orISO 14001, issued in 2004, provides standards by which a equivalent has become a critical component to acceptance bycommunity or organization may put in place and implement environmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, anda series of practices and procedures that, when taken together, funding organizations.result in an environmental management system (EMS). The following example shows how a large mining com- An EMS is one part of an organization’s larger manage- pany (CODELCO) complies with part of ISO 14001.ment system. The EMS is used to establish an environmentalpolicy and to manage the environmental aspects of the organiza- Example 1. Identification and Evaluation oftion’s activities, products, and services. A management system Environmental Consequencesis a network of interrelated elements that include responsibili- CODELCO adopted a sustainable development policy inties, authorities, relationships, functions, processes, procedures, June 2003 (CODELCO 2009). In December 2006, the com-practices, and resources. A management system uses these ele- pany issued the Corporate Directive for Identification ofments to establish policies and objectives and to develop ways Environmental Aspects and Evaluation of the Risk of Theirof applying these policies and achieving these objectives. Impacts (CODELCO 2006), providing a detailed and system- ISO 14001 is a detailed document comprising many pages. atic method for assessing environmental risk, which is appliedIt describes systemic, policy, planning, operational, and com- to all projects and activities in the corporation. The directivepliance requirements. Table 16.1-2 outlines those requirements. includes the following steps: ISO 14001 is not a technical standard and thus does not 1. Identification of unit operations or activities, routine andin any way replace technical requirements embodied in stat- nonroutine, past, present, and future.utes or regulations. It also does not set prescribed standards of
Site Environmental Considerations 1647 Identification of Unit Operations or Activities, Routine and Nonroutine, Past, Present, and Future Identification of the Inputs and Outputs for Unit Operations or Activity Identified Identification of the Environmental Aspects for Each Input and Output Identification of the Environmental Impacts Associated with Each Environmental Aspect Identified Determination of the Probability of Occurrence (P) Determination of the Consequences of Occurrence (C) for Each Environmental Impact Identified for Each Environmental Impact Identified Determination of the Environmental Risk Magnitude MRA = P × C Determination of the Significance Level for Each Environmental Aspect Identified 1 ≤ MRA ≤ 8 16 ≤ MRA ≤ 64, or C = 8 The Environmental Aspect Is Not Significant The Environmental Aspect Is Significant Courtesy of CODELCO. Figure 16.1-1 Process for identifying significant environmental aspects 2. Identification of all the inputs and outputs for each unit impacts as the main elements. This allows the direction of the operation or identified activity. process and any associated equipment to achieve common 3. Identification of the environmental aspects associated objectives aligned with the corporate standards. Here, the with the inputs and outputs of each unit operation or iden- term process includes any activity of production, service, or tified activity. administration and is defined as a sequence of activities that 4. Identification of the potential associated environmental effect the transformation of certain inputs, with the use of cer- impacts of each identified environmental aspect. tain resources, labor, goods, and services, to satisfy those who 5. Evaluation of the environmental risk, as determined by receive or use the process output. A process map is defined the probability of occurrence of each potential identified as a diagrammatic representation of a process in the abstract, impact, as a function of its frequency, and the conse- showing connections among constituent activities and flows quences of that impact on the environment, as a function of material, energy, or information, and designed to facilitate of its reversibility and extent. understanding and analysis of the processes. Figure 16.1-1 6. Determination of the magnitude of environmental risk shows a process map for the identification of significant envi- (MRA, for the Spanish magnitud del riesgo ambiental), ronmental aspects. according to the probability and consequences, for each In the identification of unit operations and activities, potential impact identified. when there are areas or activities that are not defined within a 7. Determination of the degree of significance of each envi- specific organizational unit or may be subject to overlapping ronmental aspect, according to the value of the MRA for jurisdictions, the environmental management representative that aspect. in charge of environmental affairs, together with the leaders of those areas or activities, define the allocation of responsibility The directive follows ISO 14001:2004 and distinguishes for assessment of environmental risk.between environmental aspects and environmental impacts. In the identification of inputs and outputs, the responsi-An environmental aspect is an element of the activities, prod- ble personnel examine each unit operation or activity (routineucts, or services of one organization that can interact with the and nonroutine, past, present, and future). They identify allenvironment; environmental impact is any change in the envi- the inputs, including raw materials, resources, consumables,ronment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially intermediate or recycled products, energy, services, and inresulting from environmental aspects of an organization. general everything that the unit operation or activity receives The process begins with generation of the process map from the preceding unit operation. Similarly, they identify allfor each level in a given work center, using the environmental
1648 SME Mining Engineering HandbookTable 16.1-3 Evaluation criteria for the probability of occurrence Table 16.1-4 Evaluation criteria for consequences of theof an environmental impact occurrence of an environmental impact Criterion: Occurrence of the Impact, as a Function Criterion: Description of the Impact Based on Its of Its Frequency Value Reversibility and Extent Value The impact always occurs in association with a given High (8) The alteration of the original environmental conditions is High (8) activity, or the impact happens often or frequently. considered irrecoverable, or the extension of the impact Probability (P ) The impact is expected to occur sometimes, or the Medium (4) exceeds the limits for the area of direct and indirect impact is known to have occurred on some occasions. influence of the project activity, or it significantly alters environmental conditions, and it cannot be attenuated. The impact is expected to occur on one occasion, or Low (2) the impact is known to have occurred on one occasion. The alteration of the original environmental conditions is Medium (4) considered to be 50%–90% recoverable, or the extent Occurrence of the impact is highly unlikely, or the Negligible (1) of the impact does not exceed the limit of the area of impact has never occurred. direct and indirect influence of the project of activity, Consequence (C )Courtesy of CODELCO. or the impact significantly alters or has the potential to alter environmental conditions, but the effects can be mitigated by 50%–90%. The alteration of the original environmental conditions Low (2)the outputs, including products sent to market, intermediate is expected to be minor or transitory, or the possibleproducts, services to third parties, wastes and residues, and in alteration can, with appropriate control measures,general everything that the unit operation or activity delivers be transitory or reduced to minor levels, or the environmental impacts occur only within the companyto subsequent unit operations or activities. The output of one property.unit operation or activity may often be the input to the next The alterations in the original condition will not result Negligible (1)operation. In such cases, the line executive and the environ- in any noticeable changes to the environment, or it willmental management coordinators of both areas must define be possible to minimize any alterations so they will bewhich operation is responsible for the identification of envi- imperceptible, or controlled completely.ronmental aspects and the potential environmental impacts Courtesy of CODELCO.associated with this process flow, including the discharge,transport, required surge storage, and so on. When identifying the environmental aspects, it is importantto consider that different aspects can be associated with each Table 16.1-5 Values for environmental risk magnitudeoperation or activity, not just for those performing the immedi- Consequences (C )ate task but for third parties. An example is the incorrect execu- MRA Negligible (1) Low (2) Medium (4) High (8)tion of a maintenance task, which may have effects on both themaintenance worker and on those who use the equipment after Negligible (1) 1 2 4 8 Probability (P )maintenance. The identification of these environmental aspects Low (2) 2 4 8 16should consider (1) activities of all personnel who have access Medium (4) 4 8 16 32to the workplace, including contractors, suppliers, and visitors;(2) work in areas provided by the company and by third parties; High (8) 8 16 32 64and (3) activities that interact with other resources or protected Courtesy of CODELCO.areas, including tourist attractions, landscapes, or archaeologi-cal, anthropological, historical, or cultural heritage sites. The probability of occurrence of an environmental impact, Table 16.1-6 Significance criteria for environmental aspectsP, is evaluated according to Table 16.1-3, and the conse- Classification of Significance of Environmentalquences of an environmental impact are evaluated according to Environmental Aspect Leading toTable 16.1-4. Next, for each identified environmental impact, MRA = P × C Impact Environmental Impactthe corresponding value in Table 16.1-5 is calculated as the 1–8 Insignificant Insignificantproduct of the probability and the consequence for that impact. Finally, the significance of the environmental aspects that 16–64 Significant Significantgive rise to each environmental impact is determined from Consequence 8 Significant SignificantTable 16.1-6. There are two conditions under which an envi- Courtesy of CODELCO.ronmental aspect is classified as significant: when the MRAis 16 or higher, or when the consequences of an associatedenvironmental impact are high. The sheet, with its first two columns completed, is circu- Figure 16.1-2 shows an example of a worksheet used lated to experts within the company, each of whom assigns ato assess environmental risk by CODELCO’s vice president value of 1, 2, 4, or 8 to the probability and the consequence ofof corporate projects, Office of Sustainable Development each environmental aspect in the second column. This proce-(E. Córdova, personal communication). The first column of dure is similar to that used for hazard identification and riskthe worksheet is prepared by listing every function or activity assessment in the workplace (Chapanis 1986; Colling 1990).associated with a given project, in this case, the development The product of the probability and the consequence agreed onof the Pilar Norte (the North Pillar) sector of the El Teniente for each aspect determines whether the aspect is significant ordeposit. The second column is completed with the environ- insignificant, according to the procedures and criteria describedmental aspects and affected areas for each function or activity previously. Aspects with significant environmental aspects areas identified by project personnel. addressed as priorities in project planning and management.
Site Environmental Considerations 1649Function or Environmental Affected Probability Consequence Magnitude ClassificationActivity Aspect Area Particulate emissions Work area 8 1 8 Not significantOperation of diesel equipment Gas emissions Work area 8 1 8 Not significant Fuel consumption Work area 8 1 8 Not significant Potential for spills Ground & air/Work area 4 4 16 SignificantHandling hazardous materials Generation of hazardous solid residues Work area 8 2 16 Significant Welding gas discharge Work area 8 1 8 Not significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 SignificantEquipment maintenance and repair Potential for spills of hazardous materials Ground & air/Work area 4 4 16 Significant Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 No Significant Generation of non-process wastewater Agua o Suelo 1 4 4 Not significant Generation of trash and other wastes Work area 4 1 4 Not significantInstallation of workplace utilities and structures Generation of any solid residues Work area 4 2 8 Not significant Potable water consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significant Welding gas discharge Work area 4 1 4 Not significantCivil, mechanical, and electrical area control rooms; emergency Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 Significantdrifts; main electrical room; transformer room; air shaft connections Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significantat level; extraction drift connections at level; hydraulic breakerfoundations and control rooms; fan rooms Water consumption Natural resources 8 1 8 Not significant Potential for spills of hazardous materials Ground & air/Work area 4 4 16 Significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 SignificantElectical cables, cableways, and lights Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 Significant Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significantInstallation and assembly of ventilation doors Water consumption Natural resources 8 1 8 Not significant Potential for spills of non-hazardous materials Ground & air/Work area 4 4 16 Significant Generation of hazardous solid residues Work area 8 2 16 SignificantInstallation of compressed air system Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 Significant Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significantFoundations and other concrete structures for hydraulic breakers Water consumption Natural resources 8 1 8 Not significant Potential for spills of non-hazardous materials Ground & air/Work area 4 4 16 Significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 SignificantInstallation of hydraulic breakers with hydraulic power systems and Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significantcontrol panels Water consumption Natural resources 8 1 8 Not significant Potential for spills of hazardous materials Ground & air/Work area 4 4 16 Significant Potential for spills of non-hazardous materials Work area 4 2 8 Not significantInstallation of fire prevention system Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significant Water consumption Natural resources 8 1 8 Not significant Emission of welding gases Work area 4 1 4 Not significantInstallation of industrial water system Potential for spills of non-hazardous materials Work area 8 2 16 Significant Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significant Welding gas discharge Work area 4 1 4 Not significantInstallation of water system for fire control Potential for spills of non-hazardous materials Work area 4 2 8 Not significant Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 SignificantInstallation of hydraulic power system Potential for spills of hazardous materials Ground & air/Work area 4 4 16 SignificantInstallation of ventilation fans Potential for spills of non-hazardous materials Work area 4 2 8 Not significant Potential for spills of non-hazardous materials Work area 8 2 16 SignificantInstallation of steel arch-type roof supports Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 Significant Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significantModification and reconditioning of equipment washdown areas Water consumption Natural resources 8 1 8 Not significant Potential for spills of hazardous materials Ground & air/Work area 4 4 16 Significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 SignificantConstruction of civil and electrical maintenance shops Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significant Potential for spills of hazardous materials Ground & air/Work area 4 4 16 Significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 SignificantInstallation of bridge crane Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significant Potential for spills of hazardous materials Ground & air/Work area 4 4 16 Significant Emission of welding gases Work area 4 1 4 Not significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 SignificantInstallation of water treatment (de-acidification) plant Electrical energy consumption Ground & air/Work area 4 1 4 Not significant Water consumption Work area 8 1 8 Not significant Potential for spills of hazardous materials Work area 4 4 16 Significant Generation of any solid residues Work area 8 2 16 SignificantInstallation of air compressors and lubrication systems Electrical energy consumption Natural resources 4 1 4 Not significant Potential for spills of hazardous materials Work area 4 4 16 SignificantCourtesy of CODELCO.Figure 16.1-2 Identifying and evaluating environmental effects of projectsENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING Information flow is essential in a sustainable stake-The conveyance of information is critical at all phases of a holder society. Information comes in differentmining project. All of the people and institutions with an inter- forms and is of variable quality. Information aboutest in how the project is conducted should be well informed of a company and its operations is used by a range ofthe ongoing plans for and progress with the project. MMSD actors, such as communities, investors, employees,addressed the issue of access to information in a report titled lenders, suppliers, and customers, often throughBreaking New Ground (MMSD 2002): appropriate accounting and reporting procedures
1650 SME Mining Engineering Handbook based on defined indicators and measurement tech- • The overall mine plan should include consideration of the niques. Within the industry, information is used by requirements of reclamation and restoration. Placement of management to monitor performance efficiency and waste piles, tailings ponds, and similar materials should the impacts of operations. At the exploration phase, be carefully planned to minimize rehandling of material. accurate geoscientific data and maps are crucial. At the same time, other considerations will be specific to a given project. For example, The working group that prepared Breaking New Groundheld a workshop in 2001 in Vancouver. The workshop pro- • Design and location of roads developed for explorationvided the opportunity to discuss the information used in should consider future needs for mining and process-preparing the report and examine how that information was ing. This will minimize unnecessary road building andviewed and handled by the mining industry. It was concluded decrease effects on the local ecosystem; andthat information often fails to flow to communities in a timely • When containment ponds are required for drilling fluidsand transparent fashion, that disclosure practices often fall or cuttings, consideration should be given to the futureshort of current best practice, and that one-size-fits-all systems use of those ponds for tailings impoundment, storm waterof public reporting or a global reporting standard would be an catchment, or settling ponds.extremely difficult initiative to develop. The distinct nature of The mining operation should be thoroughly planned, inspecific mines, projects, companies, locations, and commu- consultation with government agencies and people living innities means that a different mix of indicators, metrics, and the region. Historic, cultural, and biological resources shouldevaluations is needed. One effective way of scoping the need be identified, and plans made for their protection. This is espe-for information around any project is to ask the community cially important in areas where indigenous people have littlewhat they need to know in considering project proposals. exposure to the technologies used in mining. Mining compa- The ISO 14001 standard includes disclosure as an out- nies should take the appropriate steps to ensure that the indig-come of the environmental auditing and management systems. enous people understand the mining plans. The indigenousThe standard mainly addresses internal environmental man- peoples’ values and land-use practices must be understood,agement systems. Certain items within the standard refer in and steps must be taken to protect them. In some locations,general terms to external communications as part of an orga- this will necessitate the involvement of anthropologists, soci-nization’s EMSs. ologists, and other experts. It may also require a planning and There are also voluntary initiatives to standardize the approval process that differs from those to which the companyway corporations convey information. Most closely examined is accustomed. For example, some indigenous peoples makeby the MMSD was the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). It decisions by group consensus, necessitating large communitywas convened in 1997 by the Coalition for Environmentally meetings that may last for several days.Responsible Economies “to make sustainability reporting asroutine and credible as financial reporting in terms of compa- Mine Developmentrability, rigour and verifiability” through “designing, dissemi- Development is the preparation of the facilities, equipment,nating and promoting standardized reporting practices, core and infrastructure required for extraction of the valuable min-measurements and customized sector specific measurements.” eral material. It includes land acquisition, equipment selectionThe GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines suggest that and specification, infrastructure and surface facilities designreports include a CEO statement; key indicators; a profile of and construction, environmental planning and permitting, andthe reporting entity; policies, organization, and management initial mine planning.systems; management performance; operational and product Hunt (1992) provided a useful checklist for mine develop-performance; and a sustainability overview (GRI 2009). ment projects in the form of a questionnaire (see Table 16.1-7). While some aspects of this list are specific to operations inSOUND ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICES the United States, its breadth and detail make it a worthwhilePast publications have provided detailed descriptions of envi- resource for almost any mining project. It includes consider-ronmental regulations and permitting procedures for a given ations for projects in areas where no mining has occurred, forlocation―often the United States. In this chapter, a more gen- projects in previously mined areas, and for expansion projectseral approach is taken by describing the principles of sound at operating mines.environmental practice, which can and should be applied in anypolitical jurisdiction. However, some examples of regulations Infrastructure and Surface Facilities Design andand accepted practice are given for illustrative purposes. Construction Before discussing the individual activities involved in Infrastructure and surface facilities may include all of themining, it is important to point out that, in general, mining following:activities should be conducted with the future in mind. Thiswill not only minimize the environmental effects of each • Roads and railroadsactivity, but will also result in significant cost savings. This • Power plants, electric power lines, and substationsapproach will lead to some considerations that are very broad • Fuel supply lines and tank farmsand apply to almost all projects. For example, • Dams, diversions, reservoirs, groundwater well fields, water supply lines, water tanks, and water treatment plants • Government officials and all residents in the area of the • Sewage lines and sewage treatment plants proposed mine should be well informed of and directly • Maintenance shops involved in all project plans from the beginning. Such • Storage sheds and warehouses involvement will help address the concerns of local people • Office buildings, parking lots, shower facilities, and as they occur and may well obviate formal objections when changehouses permit applications are filed; and
Site Environmental Considerations 1651 • Worker accommodations (housing, cafeteria, infirmary, • Identification of possible legal or technical restrictions and recreation facilities) that may make approval difficult or require special atten- • Houses for pumps, fans, and hoists tion in the permitting process • Waste piles and impoundments • Identification of environmental resources information • Ponds for catchment of surface and groundwater, and that will be required and the development of a plan and mine drainage schedule for collection of the required data • Industrial and household waste landfills Development of a comprehensive permit plan during the Six general environmental considerations apply to the initial stages of mine development is critical. The plan shoulddesign and construction of surface facilities and infrastructure: identify predecessor information that must be generated at each stage in the permitting, thereby identifying critical path 1. Select locations of surface structures and infrastructure issues and potential bottlenecks. A Gantt chart is often used to minimize the effects of their construction and use on for this purpose. For example, if the groundwater discharge surface water, groundwater, plant and animal ecosystems, permit for the tailing impoundment takes 2 years, and the and nearby human habitation. Surface structures and design must be submitted with the application, the mine may infrastructure include roads, railroads, and power lines, need to move the “design tailing impoundment” task up on for example. the schedule. It is recommended that an environmental per- 2. Remove and store topsoil for future use from areas that mitting specialist be tasked with preparing the comprehen- will be later reclaimed. sive permit plan. 3. Control runoff so that water exiting the boundaries of the per- After preliminary planning, permit applications must be mitted mine site is captured and treated as required to meet completed. Many jurisdictions require a detailed environmen- applicable discharge standards. Many jurisdictions permit tal audit, which is then described in a report, often called an mines as zero-discharge facilities, meaning that all water or environmental impact statement, or EIS. Depending on local solid waste is contained within the permitted mine area. regulations, the EIS may be issued for public review and com- 4. Protect surface water and wetlands. Because these fea- ment. Topics covered in an EIS usually include the following tures may exist directly over mineral reserves, their relo- 19 areas: cation may be necessary. 5. Revegetate disturbed areas. Recontour the land to a 1. Permits required and permitting status defined standard and revegetate with an approved mix of 2. Ownership of surface and mineral rights seeds and plantings. 3. Ownership of the company or companies that will be 6. Control emissions of dust and noise to meet the require- operating the mine, including contractors ments of local regulations and the reasonable expectations 4. Previous history of the entities described in Item 3 of persons living nearby. In particular, if explosives are 5. Information on archaeological, historical, and cultural used, control air blast and ground vibration as required. resources within the planned mine site and adjacent areas 6. Hydrology of the mine site and adjacent areas, including Specific considerations for some surface facilities or the presence of potential pollutants and plans for dealinginfrastructure include with them • Maintenance shops should be designed to avoid contami- 7. Potential for dust and air pollution, and plans for mitigation nation of soil and water by spilled fuel and lubricants; 8. Plans for use and control of explosives • Surface facilities should be designed to minimize energy 9. Plans for disposal of mine waste, including methods for consumption, using solar water heating and alternative controlling dust generation, slope stability, and seepage electric power generation wherever possible; and of contaminated water • Surface facilities should also be designed architecturally 10. Plans for impoundments, and methods for preventing to harmonize with the natural surroundings in the locale. failure or overtopping 11. Plans for construction of backfilled areas during mining,Environmental Planning and Permitting and for backfilling of mine excavations when mining isThe forward-thinking approach mentioned earlier is espe- finished, including methods for preventing slides or othercially important in environmental planning and permitting. In instabilitythe permitting process, careful planning is imperative, so that 12. Potential for surface subsidence, both immediate andinformation is gathered efficiently, the applications submit- long term, and proposed methods of preventing subsid-ted to regulators meet all requirements, including timely sub- ence or compensating for its negative effectsmission, and mine planning costs are minimized by avoiding 13. Potential for fires in mine workings, at outcrops, and inredesign required after agency review. As pointed out by Hunt spoil piles, and methods for prevention and control of(1992), “One of the most serious deficiencies encountered such firesby many operators in the permitting process is to fail to ade- 14. Planned use of injection wells or other undergroundquately plan the time required to collect baseline data and to pumping of fluidsprovide for public and agency review of applications.” Hunt 15. Information on previous mine workings, plans forgoes on to list the major tasks and activities required during reclaiming previous workings, and description of how theearly phases of environmental planning: planned workings will interact with previous workings 16. Socioeconomic impact analysis • Identification of the regulatory agencies that will be 17. Visual impact analysis responsible for permitting the proposed mining operation 18. Noise impact analysis • Acquisition of all necessary permitting forms and copies 19. Biological assessment and impact analysis of applicable regulations
1652 SME Mining Engineering HandbookTable 16.1-7 Environmental audit checklistCategory Checklist ItemsPermits Provide a list of all permits existing, applied for, and in preparation for the mine. Indicate the current status of each permit. If the mine has National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, air permits, waste permits, water withdrawal permits, or other permits, include a listing of each applicable permit. Are any additional permits required for the facility but not already obtained? Were any citizen protests or comments filed on any of the permits? If so, describe the issues raised. What is the status of the bond on each permit? Indicate the amount of bonding liability under each permit.Surface and mineral rights Is the surface property owned or controlled by the mining company?information Does the mine have a specific written agreement with each surface owner pertaining to and providing applicable rights to the surface? If the mine is an underground mine, do the surface rights specifically include language that says the company has the right to subside? Has the mine ever received any complaints from a surface owner or any of the surrounding landowners? Indicate the nature of any complaint received. With respect to mineral rights, has there ever been a claim made suggesting that the mining company does not have complete and full mineral rights? Have any other entities been granted access rights to the property that may conflict with the rights to extract the mineral (e.g., oil wells, pipelines, utility easements, etc.)?Ownership and violation Is the mine permit held by any company not owned and controlled 100% by the operator?information Is the mine permit being held by an independent contractor? Is the mine operation being conducted by any company not owned and controlled 100% by the permittee? Is the mine being operated by an independent contractor? Give a a brief summary of applicable relation. If the mine is permitted by or being operated by an independent contractor, has a review been completed of the contractor’s violation history with regard to any other mines potentially affiliated with the contractor? If the mine is permitted by or being operated by an entity only partially owned, has a review been completed of the contractor’s violation history with regard to any other mines potentially affiliated with the other parties? How is the relationship between mine personnel and the mine inspectors (excellent, good, poor)? If poor, please describe the problems encountered. Have there been any citizen complaints filed on the mine? If so, please describe the complaints filed.Information on archaeological Within the permit area and adjacent areas, including the area over existing, past, and proposed underground workings,sites, cemeteries, etc. does the mine contain any of the following features? • Are there any federal lands? Indicate the type of federal land involved. • Is there any archaeological or historical site that has been previously identified? Indicate the type of site involved. • Are there public roads where there is not a specific written approval for mining through or under the public road by the agency that has jurisdiction over the road? • Are there occupied dwellings where there is not a specific written waiver from the owner of the occupied dwelling? • Are there any public buildings, schools, churches, community, or institutional buildings? • Are there any public parks? • Are there any public or private cemeteries?Hydrology Has the mine obtained all necessary water discharge permits? Is the mineral being mined associated with potential pollutants, such as high-sulfur-bearing strata? Has the mine ever experienced any difficulties with poor-quality mine drainage? Briefly describe the situation encountered. Does any of the mine water need to be treated to meet effluent limitations or other applicable standards? Has any poor-quality mine drainage been observed on any part of the permit area, in any of the surrounding areas, whether associated with the mine or not? Have any of the surrounding landowners or occupants ever complained about loss of water or the mine contaminating their water supplies? Is the water used by surrounding landowners of poor quality? For example, is the water discolored, does it have a bad odor or bad taste, or are there other problems with water quality in the area? Has the mine ever had any complaints about the water level in streams increasing or decreasing, or the fish population in streams increasing or decreasing? Are there any in-stream treatment facilities or in-stream sediment ponds associated with the mine? Are there any wetland areas, wet areas with cattails, or similar aquatic vegetation that could be considered wetlands, within the vicinity of the mine?Air pollution Has the mine obtained all the necessary quality permits? Have there been complaints about dust or air quality discharges from the mine? Are mine haul trucks covered with tarps to minimize dust and to prevent material from falling off? Is there a program for controlling dust and air pollution from the mine?Explosives Has the mine had any complaints from landowners pertaining to blasting or the use of explosives? Is the mine access limited because of topographic conditions, or is it possible for local people to obtain unauthorized access to the mine site? If it is possible for unauthorized persons to obtain access to the site, what measures are currently taken to control this access? Are any personnel other than trained mine personnel allowed within the mine pit or the mine property in an area that may ever be subject to blasting? (continues)