(Click on the Keynote Dropdown to see complete details on each speaker)
Mining with Principles - how our collective action on nature can contribute to the ambitions of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)
As stewards of the minerals and metals that are critical to sustainable development and decarbonisation, our industry has a responsibility to lead from the front and minimise the impact of operations on the environment and the communities where we operate. ICMM member companies have committed to operating according to 10 mining principles and 39 performance expectations. While these commitments drive leadership, action, and innovation for sustainable development, they are not the ceiling of our ambition.
Nature loss and ecosystem collapse is an undeniable threat to people and the planet, affecting human wellbeing and environmental health in every country on every continent. ICMM and our member companies are already taking steps to address this global challenge and contribute towards a world in which nature is more healthy, abundant, and resilient. In this presentation, we will explore some of the initiatives that ICMM and our member companies are implementing and of the critical role that the mining and metals sector can play in supporting the ambitions of the Global Biodiversity Framework (agreed at COP 15 in December 2022).
First Majestic Silver Corp.
Geoscience: The Foundation of Mining
A prominent CEO in the mining industry once told me “Exploration geologists create value. Everyone else involved in mining is a value detractor.” While this statement sounds catchy, the fact is that it takes a village of expertise to profitably extract minerals and metals in the mining industry, and exploration and geoscientists play a crucial role in this.
As a mining engineer with a business background, I have seen firsthand on many applications, from North and South America, Australia, Indonesia, and Eastern Europe what can happen when the geoscience work is not done well. Understanding the macro and local geology through mapping, sampling, surveys and ultimately drilling, leads to the R&R models mine planners and mining engineers depend on to optimize mine designs, capacity, layouts, methods, production, and costs. Understanding the geometallurgy and the minerals and ores can have enormous impacts on the processing selection and design, and ultimately the large-scale, long-term investments companies, and investors, must make in successfully developing and managing mining businesses. This includes final closure and reclamation, which is an essential part of the modern mining business cycle.
Good geoscience, applied correctly, gives engineers the right information to make good decisions on mining operations and drives the final success or failure of a mining venture. It’s like charting a long journey from exploration to production and economic success in the minerals industry. If you get the start of the trip mostly right, you usually end up in a good place, delivering on the results you promised to your stakeholders. But if the geoscience is poorly understood and presented, mistakes will be compounded dramatically, enough so to potentially ruin the project, and in some cases destroy the company.
In the world of mining, strong geoscience builds the foundation from which engineers and smart business leaders can drive value for everyone invested in the success of the mine. In this presentation I present some classic examples of excellence in geoscience and the resulting business benefits and include some failures which had dramatically negative results for those involved.
The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia
Meeting the Tailings Management Challenges
Due to the unacceptably high rate of catastrophic failures, tailings dams represent the single most significant risk to the mining industry. Unlike open pits and underground operations that fail internally, the release of tailings from surface facilities reports downstream, threatening people, infrastructure, and the environment. As a result, mining companies must engage effectively with all stakeholders and embrace their concerns through improved practices and commitment to preserving the social and environmental aspects of the regions in which they operate. At the same time, mining companies must also remain profitable and reward their owners, shareholders, employees, and the community. This represents a considerable challenge to the mining sector, given that the future will see the massive increase in commodity demand, which results in more tailings being generated. The mining industry’s responses to these challenges will be presented, including improved governance, consideration of alternative tailings management technologies, reduced tailings production, and increased tailings re-processing and potential re-use.
Dr. Corinne Unger
The University of Queensland, Business School
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.
Maleki Technologies, Inc. (MTI)
Review of Coal Burst Mechanics and Control Measures in Three Major United States Coal Fields
This presentation reviews a study conducted by MTI for ACARP to assist Angelo-American operations with better understanding of coal burst mechanics and control based on U.S. practical experience, investigations, and inspections in three major U.S. Coal Fields over the past five decades. The study examined both nonviolent and burst prone case studies to identify contributing risk factors and addressed failure mechanisms for major US coal fields in Utah, Colorado, and Kentucky, which have diverse characteristics.
To investigate the mechanics of coal burst, we have used a multi-pronged approach. First, field measurements in three mines from East Mountain, Utah, are complemented with finite-difference stress analyses to address the importance of horizontal stress in coal pillar mechanics of violent failure. Second, we have reviewed computational procedures for estimating seismicity resulting from slip along geological discontinuities, as these measurements point to seismicity being the trigger mechanism for violent failure of marginally stable structures. This joint-slip seismicity mechanism agrees with the more recent improved re-examination of MIS data from the Crandall Canyon Mine, Utah by University of Utah Third, we have applied a hybrid statistical-analytical methodology for identifying significant factors affecting coal burst. It utilizes data from 30 case studies including those from Utah, Colorado, Kentucky, and other Eastern U.S. mines providing predictive capability for the entire United States coal fields . The statistical method reinforces comprehensive field measurements from Utah/Kentucky mines and points to strata rigidity, joint spacings and horizontal stress field as significant factors affecting damage resulting from coal bursts. This provides practical capabilities for identifying operations of higher risk using a rigidity-cavability variable.
Overall, the study provides valuable insights into the mechanics and risk factors associated with coal bursts in major U.S. coal fields. By utilizing a multi-pronged approach that incorporates both field measurements and statistical- analytical calculations, the study offers practical capabilities for identifying operations of higher risk and improving coal burst control.
Dr. Len Drury
Aqua Rock Konsultants (ARK)
Challenges of Hydrogeology in Mine Development and Operation
During mine development and operation, there is usually too much or not enough groundwater. Both options are good for the hydrogeological profession. This may require development water supply borefields, mine dewatering, slope depressurisation, numerical modelling, Managed Aquifer Injection (in-situ mining, reducing regional hydrogeological impact, wastewater management), community consultation and local and international court representation. Due to outstanding professionalism and management skills of most mining companies it is usually a pleasure to work with them, however, there are exceptions.
Examples of hydrogeological studies will be given for major open cut and underground mining projects in Australia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Philippines and Saudi Arabia. Current ARK mine consultancies will not be presented.
The Hydrogeologist is usually one of the first professionals to arrive on a potential mineral exploration site. When working internationally the Consultant needs to understand the political, religious and ethnicity of the working environment. A simple job may be enlargened to major projects status with some simple strategies under respect and professional excellence. These essential professional standards will be presented during the presentation.
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Climate Change Mitigation, the Energy Transition and the Minerals Industry
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.
Patrick M. Webb, P.E.
Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation
Overview of Pennsylvania’s Title IV (Abandoned Mine Land (AML)) Program and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL)
Pat will provide an overview of PA’s AML program found at: Abandoned Mine Land Reclamati on (pa.gov) , specifically Pat will present definitions and illustrations of AML problem types at: AML Program Information (pa.gov) and Abandoned Mine Land Hazards and Problem Types (pa.gov) .
Pat will then provide and update of the funding that the PA AML program is using from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021. Information on the BIL can be found on the federal Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) website at: https://www.osmre.gov/bil
Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) with the Research Institute on Mines and the Environment (RIME), Québec, Canada
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.