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Key Personnel

Mike O’Kane, M.Sc., P.Eng. is President and CEO of O’Kane Consultants is based in our Calgary office. He has a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering and a M.Sc. in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan, and in 2014 received the University of Saskatchewan Alumni Achievement Award in 2014 for Global Development of his Business and Corporation, and Philanthropy.  Mr. O’Kane has over 20 years experience in applied academic research and consulting. Prior to joining O’Kane Consultants he worked as a Research Engineer for the Unsaturated Soils Research Group at the University of Saskatchewan. His area of expertise is the design, implementation, and performance monitoring of cover systems for mine waste. The focus of his work is on the application of unsaturated zone hydrology and geochemistry to closure of tailings and waste rock storage facilities.

Mr. O’Kane has extensive mining industry experience and involvement in a wide range of mine property environmental projects. He also has a strong technical background in site-specific characterization of hydrology and hydrogeology, and their influence on the sustainable reclamation of mine waste material and management of surface water and groundwater. Mr. O’Kane has designed cover systems for application in humid and arid climates for control of acid mine drainage from mine waste rock and tailings at numerous sites in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, and the USA. Each of these projects includes implementing all or some component of the design, implementation, and performance monitoring of cover systems at a detailed and/or feasibility level of design. In addition, Mr. O’Kane has served as a third party reviewer for State regulatory agencies.

Paul Weber, Ph.D. is a Principal Geochemist and General Manager of our Australian operations, based in Castle Hill Village, Canterbury, New Zealand.  He has a B.Sc. in Geology, a M.Sc (hons.) in Environmental Science, and a Ph.D. in Applied Science specializing in acid mine drainage prediction and geochemical characterization of waste rock.  He received the Ian Wark Research Institute Medal for best Ph.D. thesis (2003), and was the Postgraduate Research Student of the Year (2003) at the University of South Australia.  He has 15 years experience in the Australasian mining industry as a geologist and environmental geochemist.

Prior to joining OKC in 2013 he spent nine years working for Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd. as head of Environmental R&D for the coal mining company.  With a strong applied research focus his team delivered a number of projects that were implemented operationally including the use of cement kiln dust and coal ash as oxygen-limiting alkaline cover systems; the use of municipal bio-solids for rehabilitation of overburden dumps; the use of waste mussel shells for passive treatment of acid mine drainage; the development of new methods for acid mine drainage classification of overburden; and construction of a ultra-fine limestone dosing plant at the Stockton coal mine treating 8,000 tpa acidity.  Dr Weber has received a number of national awards for his work as well as ongoing interest and acceptance by industry demonstrates applicability.

Mark Phillip, M.Sc., E.I.T. is Vice-President of O’Kane Consultants and General Manager of our U.S. operations based in our Anaconda office. He has a B.Sc. in Environmental Engineering and a M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering with an emphasis in mine waste management. He has extensive experience with mine hydrology, geochemistry, closure planning, financial assurance, and cost estimation. In recent years, Mr. Phillip has gained considerable experience in air flow and water quality monitoring techniques for understanding the respiration behavior of waste rock dumps.

Prior to joining O’Kane Consultants in 2004, Mr. Phillip regulated both active and historic mine sites as an employee of the New Mexico Environment Department’s Ground Water Quality Bureau. As closure permit lead for a major copper mine, he guided the development of a closure plan by working with the mine operator, public interest groups, and other government agencies. He developed internal closure cost estimates and reviewed external cost estimate submittals for several mines. Mr. Phillip served as the project manager for a Superfund-like cleanup of historic mine waste, providing oversight on closure implementation and groundwater impact studies.

Tyler Birkham, Ph.D., P.Eng. is a Senior Geoscientist and OKC’s Group Leader for Coal Operations based in our Cranbrook office. He has a B.Sc. (great distinction) in Civil Engineering and a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Geological Sciences. His expertise is focused on quantifying the controls and rates of geochemical reactions in mine waste materials, including pore-gas and pore-water regimes in unsaturated geologic media. Dr. Birkham has 15 years of applied research experience in the oil sand, uranium, and coal mining industries relating to geochemical characterization of mine materials. Dr. Birkham has authored several peer-reviewed journal publications incorporating applied, multi-disciplinary research including isotope geochemistry, pore-gas transport processes, and unsaturated water flow through fractured media.

Kristie Bonstrom, M.Sc., P.Geo. is a Senior Geoscientist and OKC’s Practice Leader for Unsaturated Hydrogeology based in our Saskatoon office.  She has a B.Sc. in Geological Sciences, a B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences and an M.Sc. in Hydrology and Hydrogeology, and over nine years experience in applied research and consulting.  Ms. Bonstrom’s area of expertise is variably saturated hydrogeology, specifically understanding the physical migration of water in the vadose zone.  Ms. Bonstrom has managed vadose zone monitoring and numerical modelling studies for mine waste facility closure plans throughout Asia-Pacific and Canada.

Ms. Bonstrom completed her M.Sc. thesis on identifying and quantifying the physical controls on water migration in a variably saturated fractured porous medium at Syncrude Canada Ltd.  Prior to completing her M.Sc. she was employed as a consulting hydrogeologist working on hydrostratigraphy and groundwater modelling projects.

Dave Christensen, M.Sc., P.Eng. is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and OKC’s Practice Leader for Cover System Design based in our Saskatoon office. He has a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering, a M.Sc. in Geotechnical Engineering, and over 10 years experience in applied academic research and consulting. His graduate work focused on erosion monitoring and modelling as well as landform evolution at the Questa mine site in New Mexico, USA.

Mr. Christensen’s area of expertise is the design of field trial and full-scale cover systems through application of various numerical models including VADOSE/W, SEEP/W and WEPP. He also has considerable experience in construction supervision and installation of vadose zone monitoring instrumentation for cover system field trials. Mr. Christensen is O’Kane Consultants’ sales representative for Sentek Sensor Technologies equipment in Canada and responsible for the promotion and sales of the soil moisture monitoring equipment.

Bonnie Dobchuk, M.Sc., P.Eng. is a Senior Geoenvironmental Engineer and OKC’s Group Leader for Research & Development based in our Saskatoon office. She has a B.Sc. (Great Distinction) in Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering, a M.Sc. in Geoenvironmental Engineering, and over 10 years experience in applied academic research and consulting. The focus of Ms. Dobchuk’s graduate work was on modelling oxygen diffusion and consumption through a desulphurized tailings cover at a gold mine in northern Ontario. Prior to joining O’Kane Consultants she worked as a Research Engineer at the University of Saskatchewan, where she specialized in modelling diffusion through porous media.

Ms. Dobchuk’s area of expertise is the management and interpretation of data collected from watershed monitoring sites installed on reclaimed mine waste stockpiles. She has been actively involved in the development of guidance documents through MEND initiatives such as the MEND macro-scale cover design manual and the MEND cold regions cover design guidance document.  Ms Dobchuk is an author of several peer-reviewed journal publications on topics relating to mine waste cover design.

André Kemp, B.Eng. P.Eng. is a Principal Engineer, OKC’s Practice Leader for Mine Closure Planning and Western Australia General Manager based in our Perth office.  He has over 20 years experience as a civil environmental engineer having worked in Africa, Australia and Indonesia.  He has worked in the construction, mining and consulting industry.  Recently he has led or was strategically involved in a range of mine closure projects in Western and South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.  He has led the detailed design of waste landforms and surface water management structures, compilation of environmental approvals and mine rehabilitation and closure plans which were approved and commended by government regulators.

His primary area of work is mine closure planning, mine waste landform closure design and cost estimating.  His areas of particular technical expertise include surface water management, landform and earthworks design, costing and construction. Mr. Kemp has significant experience working for mining companies and with government organizations.  Recent projects included mine closure plan peer review, completion of options assessments and preparation of mine waste rock management plans for operating and proposed mines and guiding mine closure planning using failure mode effects analysis risk assessment.

Greg Meiers, M.Eng., P.Geo. is a Senior Geoscientist and OKC’s Practice Leader for Field Performance Monitoring based in our in Fredericton office. He has a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and a M.Eng. in Environmental Engineering, and over 10 years experience in applied academic research and consulting. The focus of Mr. Meiers’ graduate work was on the assessment of long-term cover system performance utilizing in situ measurements of hydraulic conductivity.

Mr. Meier’s area of expertise is the installation and maintenance of vadose zone monitoring instrumentation installed within field trial and full-scale mine waste cover systems. He also has considerable experience with field sampling and in situ characterization of mine waste and potential cover materials.  Mr. Meiers has conducted material characterization programs, supervised the construction of cover systems, and installed field performance monitoring systems at mine sites located in Canada, Australia, and the United States.

Steven Pearce, M.Sc. is a Senior Geoenvironmental Scientist with over twelve years of international experience in geo-environmental risk management to include applied geochemistry, quantitative groundwater and human health risk assessment, design and installation of monitoring instrumentation, land reclamation and rehabilitation, and hydrogeology. He is also Manager of our office in the United Kingdom, servicing Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Mr. Pearce recently designed and managed the installation of OKC’s in house geochemistry research laboratory which includes a world leading advanced customized leaching column facility. Steven’s professional experience has been predominantly in the sectors of mining, heavy industry and waste management.

Mr. Pearce’s professional field of expertise is principally in environmental risk management and assessment; to include acid and metalliferous drainage (AMD) assessments, geochemical assessments and modelling (including pit lakes), mine waste characterization assessment and management, mine waste scheduling and geochemical block modelling, acid sulfate soils management and assessments, quantitative groundwater fate and transport modelling, and detailed quantitative human health risk modelling, geo statistics and data management. Mr. Pearce has international experience having worked on projects in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Africa, Central America, Canada, Indonesia and the Philippines. Mr. Pearce has authored over 15 papers relating to mine site geochemistry and waste characterization and has presented widely at international conferences in South America, Africa, Europe, New Zealand and Australia. Mr. Pearce’s specialist research areas include scaling of geochemistry data from laboratory to field conditions, waste rock dump design optimization, and instrumentation of waste work dumps.

Qing (Jason) Song, Ph.D., P.Eng. is a Senior Geoscientist based in our Calgary office. He has a B.Sc. in Hydrogeology & Engineering Geology, a M.Sc. in Geotechnical Engineering, a Ph.D. in Geoenvironmental Engineering. Dr. Song’s area of expertise includes fine tailings management, gas transport in porous media, acid mine drainage control, geotechnical monitoring and design, groundwater flow modelling, contaminated site remediation, and project management. His current experience relates to physical and numerical modelling of unsaturated water flow and gas transport, fine tailings consolidation/densification, geotechnical instrumentation, and project management. Dr. Song is an author of several peer-reviewed journal publications incorporating multi-disciplinary research.

Lindsay Tallon, Ph.D., P.Ag. is a Senior Soil Scientist and is based in our Saskatoon office.  He has a bachelor of science in Agriculture (B.S.A.) in Environmental Science, a M.Sc. in Soil Science and a Ph.D. in Environment and Sustainability.  Dr. Tallon’s Ph.D. dissertation applied novel measurement techniques to examine the spatial variability of energy and temperature in mine waste soil covers.  His area of expertise is in soil physics, geostatistics, vadose zone hydrology, and the emerging field of distributed temperature sensing (DTS) technology.  Dr. Tallon has authored or co-authored numerous academic papers related to soil science and geostatistics, while also having been involved as a consultant in reclamation and closure projects in Canada, the USA, and Australia.