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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Younger
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Hydrogeological information is crucial to the development of a sound environmental impact assessment (EIA) for a proposed mine, as well as the management of potential environmental impacts during and after exploitation. However, the determination of hydrogeological parameters is not customarily included in mineral exploration surveys, with the result that many EIAs end up being rather light in hydrogeological content. Examples from the Tarkwa gold mining district of Ghana illustrate this point. Consequences of such an inadequate hydrogeological understanding are potentially serious, ranging from an inability to predict future problems in water quality after the cessation of mining, to a lack of understanding of hydrogeological controls on slope stability, which is arguably manifest in the catastrophic spill of cyanide-rich processing effluents from a breached tailings dam at Wassa West, near Tarkwa, on 16 October 2001. To redress this deficiency, we propose that a hydrogeological database be assembled during the mineral exploration phase, according to a specified protocol (‘check-list’). Using these data, a rational conceptual hydrogeological model for the mine site and its surrounding area can be developed, providing the basis for a thorough consideration of groundwater aspects within the statutory Environmental Impact Assessment, which is (as in most other countries) required by Ghanaian government statute before a mining lease is approved. The resources required to set-up such a database are small compared to the benefits.
Author(s): Kuma JS, Younger PL, Bowell RJ
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Geological Society Special Publication
ISSN (print): 0305-8719
ISSN (electronic): 2041-4927
Publisher: Geological Society Publishing House
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