This section is intended to be a forum for highlighting important issues for those involved in environmental geochemistry and the mining industry. We all understand, or should understand, that the problems that confront us are very complex. We should also take pride and consolation in the fact that there are a lot of very bright people, all over the world, working on those problems. However, without the interaction of all of us, the circle of understanding is broken and all of us are none the wiser. Such inefficiency is not acceptable. The E2Geochemistry website is available to help in the dissemination of information and knowledge.
Geo-Environmental Models Concept Paralleled by Metallurgists
E2Geochemistry, Inc, June, 2008
A recent article appearing in the SEG Newsletter (Hoal, 2008) discusses a relatively new concept designated “Geometallurgy” or “Geomet”. The similarities to the concept of Geo-environmental Models of ore deposits is worth highlighting. Geomet is described as an integration of fundamental economic geology and deposit mineralogy into the process of designing successful mine plans and resource recovery schemes. Hoal traces its roots to the early 1900s with a statement by one of founders of the Society of Economic Geologists: “… to the metallurgist and mining engineer, a full and complete grasp of economic geology in all its relations is a sin-qua-non (necessary requirement) of practical success…” (Irving, 1906). Today, such integration is, or should be, intuitive to anyone with an appreciation of how great ore deposits are recognized, developed and exploited. Despite the conceptual breadth of Geomet, Hoal makes only limited reference to environmental and social concerns. These factors are integral parts of the mine planning and design process in the 21st Century and have proven to be far greater obstacles to mining today than metallurgy itself.
Giving great weight to such fundamental economic geologic information is an underlying principle of E2Geochemistry, Inc. in the area of anticipating environmental consequences of mining (Schmiermund (2004), Schmiermund and Filas (2002), Schmiermund and Ranville (2004) and Schmiermund et al (2006). Our approach is based on the principals of “Geo-Environmental Models” as set forth by Plumlee (1999), Plumlee et al. (1994, 1995 and 1999), Plumlee and Logsdon (1998), Plumlee and Nash (1995), Plumlee, Smith and Ficklin (1994) and Gray et al (1994) of the US. Geological Survey. Geo-environmental Models, like Geomet, seeks to build a holistic picture of an ore deposit and the mining/processing operation so that the valuable information and insights gained from other disciplines are not lost in the design of environmental programs.
Creation of a common language to facilitate communication among the vast array of professional disciplines required to make a successful mine (as pointed out by Hoal) is clearly a worthy objective. The academic institutions cited by Hoal as teaching the Geomet approach include the Universities of Johannesburg and Capetown, University Católica in Chile and Colorado School of Mines.
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Hoal, K. O., 2008, Getting the Geo into Geomet: SEG Newsletter (Soc. Economic Geologists), v. Number 73.
Irving, J. D., 1906, University training in economic geology: Discussion: Econ. Geol., v. 1, p. 77-82.
Plumlee, G. S., 1999, The environmental geology of mineral deposits, in Plumlee, G. S., and Logsdon, M. J., eds., The Environmental Geochemistry of Mineral Deposits Part A: Processes, Techniques and Health Issues, Reviews in Econ. Geology, vol. 6B: Littleton, CO, Soc. Econ. Geologists, p. 71-116.
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Plumlee, G. S., and Logsdon, M. J., 1998, The Environmental Geochemistry of Mineral Deposits: Littleton, Colorado, Soc. Econ. Geologists.
Plumlee, G. S., and Nash, J. T., 1995, Geoenvironmental models of mineral deposits - fundamentals and applications, in du Bray, E. A., ed., Preliminary Compilation of Descriptive Geoenvironmental Mineral Deposit Models, Open File Report 95-831, U.S. Geol. Survey, p. 1-9.
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Plumlee, G. S., Smith, K. S., Montour, M. R., Ficklin, W. H., and Mosier, E. L., 1999, Geologic controls on the composition of natural waters and mine waters draining diverse mineral deposits, in Plumlee, G. S., and Filipek, L. H., eds., The Environmental Geochemistry of Mineral Deposits Part B: Case Studies and Research Topics, Reviews in Econ. Geology, vol. 6B: Littleton, CO, Soc. Econ. Geologists, p. 373-409.
Schmiermund, R. L., and Drozd, M. A., 1997, Acid mine drainage and other mining-influenced waters (MIW), in Marcus, J. J., ed., Mining Environmental Handbook: London, Imperial College Press, p. 599-617.
Schmiermund, R. L., and Filas, B. A., 2002, Problematic Practices in Assessing Environmental Liability for Mining Projects - A Contractor's Viewpoint: Mining in the 21st Century: Meeting the Environmental Challenges, Denver, Colorado, October 27-30, 2002, Annual Meeting & Exposition.
Schmiermund, R. L., Lazo, C., and Parnow, C., 2006, Application of Geo-Environmental Models to Accelerated EIA and Permitting Processes for an Andean Porphyry Cu-Au Deposit., 7th Intal. Conf. on Acid Rock Drainage: St. Louis, MO.
Schmiermund, R. L., and Ranville, J. F., 2006, Geo-Environmental and Related Models in the Life Cycle of Mine Development – A Flowchart for Integration. Poster w. Extended Abstract, 7th Intal. Conf. on Acid Rock Drainage: St. Louis, MO.