University of Nevada Las Vegas
Simon Jowitt is currently an Associate Professor of Economic Geology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. He has degrees from the University of Edinburgh, the Camborne School of Mines, and the University of Leicester, all in the UK. Simon’s research focuses on the use of geochemistry to unravel geological processes in a variety of settings with direct application to mineralizing systems and mineral exploration. He has also undertaken extensive research on mineral economics, global metal resources and the security of supply of the critical elements, and the “economic” side of economic geology. Simon has published more than 95 scientific papers and peer-reviewed book chapters since 2010 and was awarded the Society of Economic Geologists’ Waldemar Lindgren Award in 2014.
Climate change mitigation will require a significant decrease in the CO2 emissions associated with transport and energy generation and more. However, the metal and mineral requirements for this transition are often neglected when developing plans and policy around combating climate change. In reality, moving to a low-CO2 future will require significant (in some cases >500%) increases in production of key minerals and metals beyond the record levels of production the mining industry has already achieved, even if we can also increase the recycling of these commodities. A number of these metals and minerals are already generally considered critical, meaning that they are subject to significant supply chain risk. It is likely that the increases in demand as a result of the transition to low- and zero-CO2 energy generation, storage and transport and the associated upgrades needed to grid and other infrastructure will be the main drivers of the minerals industry for decades to come. Secondary sources of the metals and minerals required for the energy transition such as mine waste and tailings also need to be assessed, and mining operations need to consider how they can move towards carbon neutral operations. This presentation will outline the mineral requirements for a low CO2 future, why meaningful climate change mitigation will necessarily rely on the raw materials supplied by the minerals industry, and the implications of this for the future of mining and mineral and metal extraction.
Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Rouyn‑Noranda, Québec, J9X 5E4, Canada and Research Institute of Mines and Environment, Québec, Canada
Adrien Dimech is a PhD student in applied geophysics at Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) with the Research Institute on Mines and the Environment (RIME). His main research interests are applications of electrical methods to groundwater, water flow and near-surface geotechnical/engineering problems, with a specific focus on mining environment and mining waste characterization and monitoring. He is the main researcher of several research projects on time-lapse electrical resistivity tomography monitoring of mining wastes with Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium and Canadian Malartic Mine, two major mines in Québec. In 2020 and 2021, he received several excellence scholarships from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, the Canadian Exploration Geophysical Society, the UQAT Foundation and the Quebec government, including the prestigious Merit scholarship program for foreign students and the Quebec Geophysics Pioneers Scholarship.
A Review on Applications of Time‑Lapse Electrical Resistivity Tomography over the Last 30 Years: Perspectives for Mining Waste Monitoring
Adrien Dimech, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Rouyn‑Noranda, Québec, J9X 5E4, Canada and Research Institute of Mines and Environment, Québec, Canada; Lizhen Cheng, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Rouyn‑Noranda, Québec, J9X 5E4, Canada and Research Institute of Mines and Environment, Québec, Canada; Michel Chouteau, Polytechnique Montréal, Montréal, Québec, H3T 1J4, Canada and Research Institute of Mines and Environment, Québec, Canada; Jonathan Chambers, British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG, United Kingdom; Sebastian Uhlemann, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, 94720, United States; Paul Wilkinson4, Philip Meldrum, British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG, United Kingdom; Benjamin Mary, University of Padua, Department of Geosciences, Padua, 35122, Italy; Gabriel Fabien‑Ouellet, Polytechnique Montréal, Montréal, Québec, H3T 1J4, Canada.
Mining operations generate large amounts of wastes which are usually stored into largescale storage facilities which pose major environmental concerns. They must be properly monitored to manage the risk of catastrophic failures and to control the generation of contaminated drainage. In this context, non-invasive monitoring techniques such as time-lapse electrical resistivity tomography (TL-ERT) are promising since they provide large-scale subsurface information that complements surface observations and traditional monitoring tools, based on point measurements. This study proposes an overview of TL-ERT applications and developments over the last 30 years, which helps to better understand the current state of research on TL-ERT for various applications. Several recent case studies are discussed to identify promising applications for geoelectrical monitoring for (i) improved metal extraction, (ii) economical wastes mapping, (iii) contaminated drainage characterization, (iv) geotechnical stability monitoring and (v) geochemical stability monitoring. Reference libraries have also been created and made available online to facilitate future research on mining wastes using TL-ERT. The review considers recent advances in instrumentation, data acquisition, processing and interpretation for long-term monitoring. It also draws future research perspectives and promising avenues which could help to address some of the potential challenges that could emerge from a broader adoption of TL-ERT monitoring for mine waste rock piles (WRP) and tailings storage facility (TSF) monitoring.
Dr. Corinne Unger
The University of Queensland, Business School
Corinne Unger is a research fellow in Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the University of Queensland Business School. Her initial earth sciences and education studies were followed by a postgraduate diploma in Geoscience (applied geomorphology) from Macquarie University, Australia. She then embarked on a multi-decadal career starting in soil conservation and advancing to mine rehabilitation and closure at ERA’s Ranger Mine in the Northern Territory. Corinne then became an environmental regulator of mining for the government in Central Queensland, before leading an abandoned mine rehabilitation planning project for the largest legacy site in that state: Mount Morgan. Following a move to Brisbane, Corinne was a specialist consultant for many years in mine rehabilitation, closure and legacy site management during which, she undertook a Churchill Fellowship in 2009, studying leading practice abandoned mine rehabilitation and post-mining land use in Europe and Canada, later publishing her research in a book chapter and journal articles. After a few years conducting research in the Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, at The University of Queensland, Corinne moved to the UQ Business School to complete her PhD. Here, she added social science to her qualifications, researching how organisations manage slow developing, inconspicuous risks over long durations. Corinne is a Board Member of the Victorian Government’s Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority, is a chartered environmental professional within the AusIMM, and an expert contributing to ISO’s TC82/SC7 ‘Mine Reclamation and Closure Management’ family of standards. Currently she is also Project Lead for the Working Group developing a ‘Managing Mining Legacies’ standard.
A spectrum of Closure Outcomes from Managing Enviro-Social Risks over the Life of Mine
Only when I wrestled with the limitations of risk assessment frameworks for mining operations did I realise that they were all directed toward mitigating unwanted events and in doing so overlooked the process whereby enviro-social risks develop over the whole life of a mine. This prompted me to advance from earth science to social science to learn how to research and explain these risk organising processes that come together under the broad concept of mine closure. This comprises a set of activities carried out throughout the life of mine to manage risks that develop collectively, slowly and inconspicuously over long durations. This paper presents a spectrum of ways of managing these enviro-social (insidious) risks with divergent outcomes from i) leading practice creating beneficial post mining uses, to ii) worst practice that leaves persistent negative mining legacies. ‘Leading practice’ insidious risk management (IRM) for mine closure creates safe, stable and non-polluting landforms of waste materials, backfilled into pits or in purpose-built above-ground landforms, remediated/ reclaimed to support life (e.g., ecosystems), or healthy pit lakes with carefully managed groundwater rebound supporting sustainable and agreed post-mining uses; decommissioned or repurposed infrastructure; together with communities having a say in the landforms and uses so they can reconnect culturally with mined lands and return to old livelihoods or find a role in new livelihoods. There is also potential to find new value in wastes to extend the life of mines and reduce liabilities. At the other end of the spectrum catastrophic outcomes result from inadequate closure and may include: large unfunded liabilities at the end of mine life, companies selling mines for $1 to smaller entities who underestimate the closure risks, partial reclamation leaving persistent impacts to be managed in perpetuity by others, abandonment of environmental obligations and mining-dependent communities. While the latter are increasingly less common as regulations catch up over the last decade, globally there remain a significant number of mining legacy sites that require intervention. Importantly, while the outcome of mine closure is relatively obvious, the IRM process that accomplishes this, is not. Thus, this presentation will explain the eight main activities carried out during IRM and show how differently each are carried out within the spectrum of ways. Understanding this process supplements our understanding of risk management that is directed toward preventing or mitigating an unwanted event. The two dimensions of risk – process and outcome - go hand in hand, but the crucial influence of the social organising process of risk management that leads to different outcomes has not been well understood or even examined until now. Hence, I explain how practitioners, including geoscientists, interact with; colleagues and other professionals, regulators, environments and mine features, plus communities over the life of a mine to produce leading practice outcomes (or the opposite). Increasingly investors and markets are urging higher sustainability standards. This keynote urges integration of disciplinary fields and a longitudinal perspective of mining that reflects upon past activities and standards and creates a more sustainable future.