Environmental Management
Pit Lakes
Numerical Modeling
Project Permitting

Mining activities often result in issues related to water contamination, including ground water, lakes, rivers, and ocean estuaries. At the cessation of operations at an open pit mine, for example, surface and subsurface water sources will naturally form a lake containing a variety of dissolved metals and minerals. The contents of the lake and their impact on the surrounding environment need to be understood for effective treatment and management to occur.

Companies operating open pit mines in coastal areas may elect, if permitted, to dispose of waste rock by grinding it, mixing it with water, and transporting the resulting slurry to the coast for sub-surface discharge into the ocean. The rock particles in the slurry are transported by currents and eventually settle onto the ocean bottom. Again, the behaviour and fate of the waste rock needs to be understood in order to evaluate the potential impact on the environment.

Often the complex behaviour of lake, river and ocean currents; or of ground water systems, necessitates the use of a computer model to simulate this behaviour, and provide a tool for quantifying the environmental impact of a mine.

Lorax utilizes a variety of computer models, many developed in-house, to investigate and understand complex systems involving mine-related impacts on surface or ground water, including:

  • Three-dimensional hydrodynamic models for calculating currents in lakes and oceans. Depending on the application, the model may include some or all of the following:
    • Tides
    • Winds
    • River and stream inflows / outflows
    • Surface ice formation
    • Shoreline and bathymetry
    These models may calculate dissolved mine-related contaminant dilution directly, or provide currents for use by other models designed to simulate processes such as effluent dispersion, suspended solids concentration, or sediment deposit and re-suspension.
  • Physical / Geochemical models for predicting short- and long-term evolution of physical and geochemical properties in pit lakes.
  • Groundwater models for calculating three-dimensional sub-surface water distribution and flows.
  • Models of suspended sediment / tailings concentrations resulting from solids discharge to lakes and oceans.

Model output can be processed and displayed in a variety of ways to increase a client’s understanding of complex processes and to provide quantitative answers to challenging questions.