- © 2004 Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
To exploit an ore deposit without unduly impacting the environment is a challenge that can only be met by the concerted efforts of traditionally independent teams working on a mining project. Not only is detailed geology required of geologists to help mine engineers to develop a mine plan that assures generation of the least possible amount of mine waste, but metallurgists also have to select the most environmentally friendly mineral processing schemes, and communicate with environmental engineers with regard to complications that process chemicals may pose on proper mine waste management. Traditional ore deposit models typically emphasize the geological and mineralogical aspects of ore genesis to facilitate exploration for similar deposits. Recent research has shown that potential environmental liabilities such as acid mine drainage and metal leaching can readily be predicted according to deposit types. The choice of mining methods, mineral processing schemes, and decommissioning options are also largely dictated by the composition and setting of an orebody to be mined. Integrating such related information into traditional ore deposit descriptions would lead to the development of comprehensive environmental ore deposit models. The latter would facilitate communication among staff of the varied components of a mine project and aid with the selection of a combination of methods and strategies that would assure minimum environmental risks and impacts, reduce the overall project cost, and enhance sustainable development.