The following is not final/edited comment on the Maine mining rule and addresses just a few examples in just the first 3 sections, Applicability, Prohibitions. and Definitions . It is not even complete for “definitions”. All is not well between “Applicant” and “Overburden” and there is much after “Overburden” in definitions that is out of alignment with practice and procedure in metallic mining. I am posting this as a small example to give emphasis to my post on not making last years failure this years holy grail..to point out how complex metallic mining is and how desperately we need to recognize the limitations of our expertise and bring in some one who knows what they are doing. Highlighted text is commentary placed in the framework of actual text from the draft mining rule.
Lindsay Newland Bowker, CPCU, ARM, Environmental Risk Manager
Bowker Associates, Science & Research In the Public Interest
15 Cove Meadow Rd Stonington Maine 04681
06-096 Chapter 200: METALLIC MINERAL EXPLORATION, ADVANCED EXPLORATION AND MINING
Subchapter 1: GENERAL PROVISIONS
A. To all portions of a mining operation established after the effective date of this Chapter.
This language is what got us the Callahan Mine superfund site in Brooksville ( operations initiated before the effective date of Maine’s reclamation law were statutorily exempted). This language is strange and misleading and presents clear operational/administrative issues..so some “portions” would be under old rules if they are already underway and the next “portion” would be under new rules????? What does the term “portion” mean when applied to metallic mining??? What permit applications and active permits are affected by this exemption of applicability?
B. Prohibition. No permit shall be issued under this Chapter to a mining operation that includes:
(1) Heap or percolation leaching.
Electro winning is included in the definition of benefictaion and then addressed again as an proposed exemption from the definition of mine wastes so it seems clear the intent is not to preclude electro winning, indeed , that it is anticipated. In order for material to be prepared for electro winning it goes through a sulphuric acid leach, usually in a covered building and with a constructed impermeable liner as well as open troughs with hard impermeable compacted liners that deliver the liquid containing all leached metals in suspension to the the elctrowinning facility. SX/EW, the entire process is referred to includes heap or percolation leaching clearly within the official definition provided in the rule which is:
. Heap or Percolation Leaching. “Heap or percolation leaching” means a process used
for the primary purpose of recovering metallic minerals in an outdoor
environment from a stockpile of crushed or excavated ore by percolating water
or a solution through the ore and collecting the leachate>
(2) Mining for thorium or uranium ore.
(3) Mining in or under the waters of the state.
(4) Mining in or under coastal wetlands.
Amend to include no mining on or under any intertidal zone if not included in “waters of the state in 3 above)
(5) add no fracking or in situ leaching of any kind whether using air, water or chemicals
(6) add prohibition on Block caving ‐ The block‐caving method of mine development utilizes the natural forces of gravity to cause the ore to break on its own accord without being drilled and blasted. Holes are drilled insufficient quantity until the structure of the drilled portion of the ore body is weakened enough so that gravity causes it to fall into the underlying drifts. The ore is collected from the drifts and removed using loaders.
Block Caving is a method that attempts to lower the costs of underground mining especially where the quality of the ore presents a possible economic risks or challenges would be the case in most Maine VMS deposits. It is very risky and unpredictable method even with the most meticulous engineering and pre-engineering and because of this there is no financial risk transfer (reclamation bonds and insurance) for subsidence the almost inevitable end result.
Blodgett, Steve and Kuipers, James R. Technical Report :Underground Hard-rock Mining: Subsidence and Hydrologic Environmental Impacts , Center For Science In Public Participation February 15, 2002
Chambers, David Block Caving Center For Science In Public Participation, Bozeman Mt. June 12, 2007
“:The U.S. insurance industry considers mine and other subsidence uninsurable, based on its “devastation”and uncertainty with respect to risk, consequences, and cost. This makes financial assurance requirements for subsidence areas problematic. To address subsidence impacts to surface-structures caused by coal mining, some states have developed their own insurance programs (Ingram, 1993).”
“ The subsidence areas, which now cover tens of acres, continue to be unstable and will pose safety risks for many years into the future. Both subsidence pits at San Manuel now act as highly transmissive pathways for precipitation to reach the underground workings”
“The glory hole created on Red Mountain by mining at Henderson was approximately 1500 feet in diameter by October 1983. Another glory hole created by underground mining at Urad on the southwest side of Red Mountain is much larger and extends almost to the summit (Stewart and others, 1984). Together these two subsidence areas have created dangerous, unstable conditions on Red Mountain that pose hazards to humans and wildlife”. (P 32)
(many other examples given following from above)
2. Definitions. As used in this Chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings: (red highlighted text within definitions undicates terms on which definitional issues are raised)
MISSING DEFINITIONS The following terms are used in the rule two or more times without definition and should be included in definitions
DEVELOPMENT ROCK: This is used three times in the rule. (a) in the section on mining plan to require a characterization of “development rock” and estimated volume (2) to state that monitoring starts when any overburden or development rock is extracted in either advanced exploration or mining (3) in reclamation to distinguish piles..
It is a term of art usually referring to the equivalent of overburden for underground mining, ie everything you have to go through to get to the part you intend to extract. Development Rock includes both barren rock and “lean ore” and is usually returned to an under ground mine either contemporaneously after each extraction phase or at closure. It should be geochemically classified for its ARD generation potential & toxic metals leaching and its storage area designed accordingly. The term for this storage area “TEMPORARY DEVELOPMENT ROCK STORAGE AREA (TDRSA) should also be defined and performance standards set for the TDRSA within the rule itself. The ARD/Toxic Leaching analysis ( static & kinetic testing) advise on whether all of the development rock may be handled in the same way and what design parameters the TDRSA must have to prevent any ARD or toxic leaching. Depending on the mine plan a TDRSA may be in use, in whole or in part for 10 years or more.
ELECTROWINNING: used several times in the rule importantly as excluded from the definition of mine waste while acknowledged in the definition of “benefaction” is not defined. Electro winning can be either an ancillary process to water treatment for removal of metals or a rimary benefecation process producing very high quality zinc or copper in sheets and potentially allowing extraction of lower garde ores that might otherwise not be profitable to extracte. SRK is touting it as the “green extraction method”. In both cases, the sulphuric acid solution containing the extactable metals, when it is finished being recycled is hazardpus waste and must be handled accordingly. Also the definition needs to be clarified against the apparent conflcict with the heap leach exclusion. The process of placing the metals in solution for benefication by electrowinning is a heap leach process. Each of the main components of electro winning ( the leach pad, the delivery of fluids to the elctro winning, the post electrowinning system for reuse need to be defined and each needs to have specified performance standards in the body of the rule .
REACTIVE WASTE-is used in definition of mine wastes but is not a “term of art” and is not included in definitions. “Reactive” in metallic mining generally refers to samples respresentative of specific materials or part sof the deposit which are expected to immediately start generating acid on exposie to air or water, generally materials with an NP:AP ratio <1. The term “Reactive” shoud be in “defintions” the term “reactive waste” is confusing and confused. Materials that are not waste, ege TDRSA, or other materials temporarily stored and later to be returned to the mine may also be “reactive”. All materials that are stored on site , whether for a temporary period or permanently that are “reactive” should have specific performance standards and requirements ( eg segregation from all other materials ( piles and on site storage by similar geochemical profile . Additionally the rule should include performance standards on when off site handling processing or strorage is necessary. So the term “:reactive” should be defined broadly enough and in geochemical terms so that it can be applied to any materials that are reactive, waste or not.
The terms reactive is used at I (4) and I (5) )Storage Piles “reactive mine materials” and is a chapter heading in two different chapters. “reactive mine materials classification” and “reactive mine materials management systems”
I. Applicant. “Applicant” means any person who applies to the Department for a mining permit.
Applicant/Permittee confusion ..Througout the rule most responsibility is assigned to applicant..some to “applicant & Permittee”, a few to permittee..must be clear that the permittee is financially and otherwise responsible for actions of the applicant and if not qualified to directly oversee create an internal mechanism for independent oversight. Only a qualified, reputable experienced mining company can qualify for the insurance and bonding for mning perations or attract and hold the confidence of investors. The normal and preferred relationship between a non experienced owner like JD Irving and a qualified mining company is via lease with royalties payable to the owner of the property. This is preferred from a risk management point of view as well. In any event applicant and permittee are one in the same company. It is “applicant” until the permit s granted and “permitee” after that.It is and must be one in the same company. If Maine anticipates allowing a completely inexperienced company like Irving to hire a qualified minng company then the terms and conditions of that arrangement must provide for qualified independent oversight. No problem with qualifications and mining related binds and insurance being evidenced though a qualified mining company but the applicant and permittee can’t be two different companies.The non qualified applicant/permittee must designate a specific company as the Mining Operator and a qualified Independent overseer of the mining operator ) as a resident engineer for an owner hiring a contractor to do specialized heavy construction work) .
GGG Overburden. “Overburden” means all of the earth and other materials which lie above the natural mineral deposits to be mined. Overburden does not include reactive wastes, lean ore, or other waste rock.
A more customary and appropriate definition of “overburden “is :
“ OVERBURDEN Designates material of any nature, consolidated or unconsolidated, that overlies a deposit of useful materials, ores, or coal–esp. those deposits that are mined from the surface by open cuts.”
It is a term that involves a great deal of variation and is also often used to describe all that overlays any bedrock . A more precise and uniformly applied term to this is “regolith”
Within the many variations of use , “Overburden” is a geologic term and refers to all that material ( either regolith or igolith +)of any nature between the target ore for extraction and the surface where the excavation will be initiated. By definition it could include soils of varying character, reactive rocks, mineralized rock , barren rock. The exemption phrase added in the draft rule confuses characterization of the geologic component ( reactive wastes) with its definition as a geologic component.
There is absolutely no useful or clarifying reason to have such an odd and idiosyncratic definition of “overburden” in Maine’s mining rule.
Also as used throughout rule the intent is inconsistent with respect to this idosyncratic and odd definition of a very fundamental mining term,” overburden” in some places it seems that they are going for overburden= clean fill but in general not at all clear or consistent.