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Challenges in the characterization and prediction of the hydrogeology and geochemistry of mined ground

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Younger


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Although mining is no longer a key industry in the UK, the international mining industry continues to expand. One of the principal legacies of past mining in Britain is water pollution emanating from abandoned mine voids and waste rock depositories. This has necessitated many expensive technical evaluations and remedial programmes in recent years, from which important lessons may be drawn for the still-growing mining industry overseas. Perhaps the single most important lesson is that there can never be too much information on mine hydrogeology and geochemistry available at the post-closure phase. As this phase is also the longest in the overall life cycle of any mine, it should be given appropriate consideration from the outset. The post-closure studies described in this paper and in this volume (as well as elsewhere) highlight the dearth of hydrological data that are usually available when compared with the wealth of geometric information available from mine abandonment plans. It is advocated that the collection of appropriate environmental data is built into the initial mine development plan and that monitoring commences from the green field site onwards. The uncertainties related to predictive modelling of mine water arisings are considerable, whilst those of predicting mine water quality are even greater. Numerous pointers towards robust mine water management strategies are identified, and a call for 'defensive mine planning' is made, in which relatively modest investments in hydrogeochemical control measures during the exploration and exploitation phases of the mine life cycle will yield dividends in the post-closure phase. With such measures in place, and enhanced monitoring data to hand, the conjunctive application of physical and geochemical evaluations will eventually provide much-needed predictive tools to inform site management decisions in the future.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Younger PL, Robins NS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geological Society Special Publication

Year: 2002

Volume: 198

Issue: 1

Pages: 1-16

ISSN (print): 0305-8719

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Geological Society Publishing House


DOI: 10.1144/GSL.SP.2002.198.01.01


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