Its experienced staff of hydrogeologists, geologists, geochemists, and engineers enables Itasca to address virtually all aspects of mining hydrogeology, including dewatering, depressurization, water quality, water balances, mine-water disposal, water supply, water management, and field investigations. With offices situated around the world, Itasca possesses first-hand knowledge of the particular mining challenges in each local region. Itasca pool of expertise covers the gamut of mine operations, from hard to soft rock mining in both open pits and underground mines. Itasca hydrogeologists and engineers have taught mining hydrogeology short courses at annual meetings of the Society for Mining Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) and for mining clients around the world.
One of Itasca’s strengths is the ability to effectively design and optimize mine dewatering and depressurization systems. The company designs and supervises the installation of dewatering wells, sub-horizontal drain holes, drainage galleries, and seepage-collection systems for surface and underground mines located around the world.
In additional to the operational hydrogeologic aspect, Itasca also performs work related to the environmental and permitting aspects of mining projects. Experience in these areas ranges from the baseline characterization of hydrogeologic conditions and mined materials (waste rock, tailings, and ore) to the technical evaluation of potential or observed water-resource impacts for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and/or State permits, such as drawdown of the groundwater table, subsidence, and water-quality impacts.
Itasca has developed a sophisticated, three-dimensional, finite-element groundwater flow model code called MINEDW™ specifically for the evaluation of complex mining water-related issues. MINEDW is currently being used worldwide at many large-scale open-pit and underground mines. Depending on a client’s requirements, the widely-known MODFLOW and FEFLOW numerical codes are also used.
The core services offered include the following.
- Hydrogeology and geochemistry discipline lead for NI 43-101 reports and project evaluation/design studies (scoping, pre-feasibility, and feasibility)
- Estimation of dewatering requirements for surface and underground mines
- Prediction and evaluation of the impact of mining on local and regional water resources, most notably water quantity, acid rock drainage, and metal leaching
- Baseline characterization of water resources and water quality
- Materials characterization for waste rock, tailings, and ore
- Estimation of groundwater inflow to pits and underground openings
- Design and optimization of dewatering systems
- Prediction of pore pressures in order to analyze slope stability
- Design of disposal systems for mine water
- Evaluation of groundwater supplies, as well as identification of groundwater recharge and discharge relationships
- Training of mine personnel in the acquisition and management of hydrogeologic data