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Mine Closure Planning

OKC’s mine closure philosophy includes the following concepts:

1)  Life of mine closure design;
2)  Landform engineering;
3)  Defensible design based on best science and engineering;
4)  Climate change considerations; and
5)  Engagement with stakeholders.

Rendering of a reclaimed tailings storage facility in Australia.

Materials Characterization

A thorough investigation of site materials, both waste and potential reclamation materials, is required to develop a solution unique to an individual site. O’Kane Consultants conducts material characterization programs involving material sampling as well as field and laboratory testing to determine physical and hydraulic characteristics necessary for reclamation design.

Cover System Design

At many mine sites, the design and construction of a cover system for closure of a waste storage facility represents the single biggest issue, not only with respect to environmental impact and cost, but also public and regulatory scrutiny. O’Kane Consultants works with their clients to provide a cover system design that meets design objectives, is suited to local climate and hydrogeological conditions, and fits within budget requirements.

Landform Design

The consideration of geomorphic principles is fundamental when designing a stable landform. Reclamation failure can usually be traced to violation of geomorphic principles. O’Kane Consultants uses creativity to develop an aesthetically pleasing landscape that not only satisfies the criteria for physical stability, but also contributes to the land capability and satisfies quantitative and qualitative criteria specified by key stakeholders.

Performance Monitoring

O’Kane Consultants design and install field monitoring systems to monitor various parameters that influence the performance of cover systems. Understanding field performance of proposed given cover system design develops credibility and confidence from a closure perspective. Performance monitoring also allows the development of a database to calibrate numerical modelling tools, which can then be used to predict long-term cover system performance.

Fine Tailings Management

Environmental evaporation from oil sands tailings is a cost-effective method for dewatering fine fluid tailings. The evaporative drying rate of fluid tailings is affected by environmental factors, characteristics of the tailings, and tailings depositional conditions / processes. O’Kane Consultants provides fine tailings management services using evaporative drying technology to optimize the tailings filling rate and maximize utilization of environmental evaporation.

Heap Leaching

Heap leaching has become a widely used method of mining low-grade gold, silver, copper, and uranium ores. One of the key components to success in heap leaching is favourable heap hydrology. Heap leach piles are unsaturated systems and therefore must be addressed as such. O’Kane Consultants apply the knowledge and tools of unsaturated soil science to design and optimize operation of heap leach piles.

Data Management

Data quality is integral to the mine closure process as well as to furthering the state of the art of mine waste cover system design. O’Kane Consultants offers expertise in field performance monitoring data management, and is developing a web-accessible database for data storage and reporting.

Support Services

O’Kane Consultants are authorized distributors for Campbell Scientific and Sentek Sensor Technologies, world leaders in the manufacture of field performance monitoring equipment.