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MINE WATER SOLUTIONS 2015 WAS A GREAT SUCCESS!
2015 marked the conference’s first year in North America – and we are excited to say that more than 275 people from 12 countries participated.
The Mine Water Solutions in Extreme Environments conference series grew from a recognition of the importance of water for society and for the extractive industry – a major stakeholder in the water issue.
Some of the points and topics from the conference that have resonated with us include:
- The opening comments by Jennifer McGuire on climate change. Her research clearly indicates that we need to do everything within our power to improve the performance of engineered structures to protect people and the environment.
- Professor Chris Moran, the conference keynote speaker, gave a new perspective on how to think about developing solutions for mine water management by:
- using a more systemic approach to problem identification;
- recognizing that mine systems include humans and that their interactions must be understood to reach a solution;
- understanding the real communication lines and relationships within an organization and how people interact to address issues; and
- looking at strategic versus tactical approaches.
- We need to understand the impacts that the industry has on water and the mitigation measures it can adopt, while also looking for tangential opportunities, like carbon sequestration, as Greg Dipple discussed.
- Climate variability is real and is going to have to be part of our project evaluations, in particular in the evaluation of mine closure plans. There are credible estimates indicating temperatures will be increasing in Northern Canada in the coming years. We must fully recognize the impacts that rising temperatures will have on engineered facilities.
- Water is not the only issue: we need to consider combining and integrating initiatives with energy, safety, and social engagement. Lisa Wade used the term Watergy (water and energy) to suggest a path forward.
- We all left this conference with a renewed appreciation for the importance of social issues; community interfaces; building trust; active listening; engaging communities in the development of our solutions; and participating with communities in addressing solutions for their issues. Building trust, responsibility, respect, and responsiveness are all essential for success. The process is as important as the facts.
- We learned about a new extreme environment: extreme population.
- We saw examples of using extreme climates as a mitigation measure:
- freezing at the Giant mine; and
- capturing cyclones for fresh water in western Australia.
- We saw two examples of abandoned mines that had substantial remediation costs – both in the hundreds of millions of dollars. As an industry we need to do everything possible to move current project planning and designs forward, so as to avoid these situations at closure.
- No matter how hard we try to minimize mine water impacts we will never be perfect. Therefore, for at least the near future, we will have to utilize water treatment technologies.
Remember: The water management solutions of the future will not only be technology based. They will require strong systems and human interfaces for them to become the step change that we as an industry need.
Pat Corser and Dirk Van Zyl
Co-Chairs, Mine Water Solutions in Extreme Environments 2015
MINE WATER SOLUTIONS 2013
The first Mine Water Solutions conference took place in April 2013 in Lima, Peru, and was well
attended by over 350 delegates from 25 countries.