Short Course 3

Practical Guide to Open Pit and Underground Mine Water Management


Geoff Beale, Chief Mine Water Advisor, Piteau Associates
Dr Martin Williams, Geochemistry Advisor, Piteau Associates
Simon Sholl, Senior Hydrogeologist, Piteau Associates


1 day on Sunday (2021-07-11)


This one day course aims to provide those currently working in the development or operation of mining projects with an introduction to the main elements of mine water management at open pit and underground operations.  Following on from an initial introduction of how to define and quantify mine water management requirements, the course will focus on practical examples of water management techniques applied at mine sites located in a variety of hydro(geo)logical settings across the globe. The course will cover all aspects of water management from mine dewatering and pore-pressure control, surface water conveyance, water quality prediction, control and treatment and site-wide water balance optimization.

Module 1: Open pit mine water management (1.5 hrs)

Starting with an overview of how water affects mining, including operational and cost implications, this module will provide an introduction to the general principles of mine water control, before providing practical examples of dewatering methods (including passive water control), surface water control and reviewing dewatering versus depressurisation.  Methods for predicting dewatering rates will be reviewed, including the use and applicability of numerical models, before the design and analysis of monitoring data as a means of measuring the operational effectiveness of implemented dewatering strategies is assessed.

Module 2: Underground mine water management(1.5 hrs)

This module will focus on water management strategies for underground operations, including the specific requirements needed where underground operations develop either beneath exiting open pit operations, or where block caving is the mining method.  The module will be based on practical examples of operations which have implemented pumping and/or grouting/freezing approaches to groundwater control underground.  Focus will be placed on the criticality of the design execution, including development of a robust feedback loop as part of operations, to ensure that design-implementation-verification are constantly reviewed to maintain safe underground operations.

Module 3: Mine water chemistry (1.5 hrs)

This module will focus on the increasingly challenging issue of management of mine contact water. The module will encompass approaches to the prediction of contact water quality, the design of mine water management systems to optimize water quality and the key technologies applicable to the mining sector for the treatment of mine water.  The module will be structured to consider all stages of the mine life cycle from pre-construction design to closure. Practical examples will be provided from a spectrum of climatic and geological settings, with successes and/or causes of failure highlighted as appropriate. 

Module 4: Mine water management as part of the site wide water balance (1.5 hrs)

The final module in this course demonstrates how a site-wide water and chemical mass balance model allows the pit and/or underground and geochemistry aspects of mine management to be integrated.  With the inclusion of additional mine-site water management requirements, such as process circuits, TSFs and waste rock dumps, a water balance provides an important tool for both short-term decision making and life of mine planning.  Probabilistic simulations using GoldSim allow alternative water management strategies to be simulated and their relative risks included in trade off studies.