SRK Consulting's Groundwater Group has recently had a unique technical exchange opportunity. Hydrogeologists from offices around the globe gathered in Vancouver, Canada, to discuss the group's current and future strategies in the fields of mining hydrogeology and groundwater resources and to catch up with technical developments within and outside the company.

The meeting was an initiative partially funded by SRK Global, to further integrate the technical teams working in different parts of the world. It is part of SRK's strategy to periodically bring together professionals from specific disciplines to exchange views and discuss topics of common interest. One of the outcomes is to identify each region's specific strengths, facilitating the formation of international project teams. On this year’s meeting, 22 professionals from 7 offices took part in the discussions. Andy Barrett, the company's CEO, said "SRK technical workshops are a useful vehicle to ensure integration of our Group resources. These meetings enable our international consultants to share their learning and experiences, brainstorm their methodologies and approaches to particular technical challenges, and thereby improve and advance our capabilities. The personal interaction also cements our internal networks ensuring that our clients have access to relevant skills and expertise, irrespective of their particular jurisdictions."

The group's meeting was arranged to coincide with the Sea to Sky Joint Geotechnical and Hydrogeology Conference, partially organized by the Canadian chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists. Some of SRK's recent groundwater and hydrochemistry work was presented at this conference.

Six abstracts and technical papers can be viewed using the links below.


Alan Woodford
Peter Rosewarne
This is a question that, until recently, hydrogeologists in South Africa could not answer, despite early attempts in 1998 and 2001. The present work is the result of an initiative by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) in 2003, the Groundwater Resource Assessment Phase 2 Project, which sought to quantify the groundwater resources of South Africa on a national scale. The project was carried out by a consortium of consultants with SRK Consulting as project leaders in close collaboration with key DWAF personnel and was completed in June 2005. Algorithms have been developed for the estimation of aquifer storage, recharge, base flow and the groundwater reserve. The quantities derived for the key aspects of recharge, aquifer storage and extractable groundwater are 30,520, 235,500 and 19,000 Mm3/a, respectively.

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Ben Green
A classification scheme of groundwater resources by semi quantitative methods is proposed to determine a level of confidence in mine water resources. The approach taken in this scheme is to combine the methods employed in Russia to characterise hydrogeological regions, with international ore reserve reporting codes such as the JORC Code. Taking hydrogeological criteria, mine water requirements and details of hydraulic test work, a series of tables and simple empirical equations can be created. A confidence index is developed from these equations which can be used to communicate groundwater issues to the mining company. If necessary, suggestions can then be proposed to the client as to how confidence in the groundwater supply can be improved.

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Daniel MackieThis paper discusses the use of multi-level monitoring systems on the hydrogeological interpretation of a structurally complex geological environment in the Northwest Territories, Canada. The study area is the Giant Mine, where extensive underground workings are to be allowed to flood. Fourteen multi-level monitoring systems have been installed to provide information on hydraulic gradients, as well as to act as a regional monitoring system after re-flood. The development of a reasonable hydrogeologic conceptual model from which to assess both current conditions and potential future conditions after re-flood was significantly improved by the availability of multi-level data.

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Kelly Sexsmith
Stephen Day
The present work considers the effects in water chemistry originated from the partial flooding of underground workings containing sulphidic mine waste at the Britannia Mine in British Columbia, Canada. The initial results indicated that flooding leads to a modest reduction in pH, and modest increases in sulphate and metal concentrations in the mine drainage. In the initial flood tests, iron concentrations were most strongly affected, with concentrations increasing from approximately 4 mg/L during flow-through conditions to as high as 78 mg/L in the flooded mine water. Although concentrations increased in response to flooding during subsequent events, the increase has not been as high as indicated by the initial tests, possibly reflecting depletion of oxidation products from the flooded portion of the mine.

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Mauro Prado
Richard Connelly
This paper describes a planning tool to assist local authorities with the long term management of groundwater and mineral resources in the County of Somerset, England. A Geographical Information System was developed and contains layers that were grouped in five main topics: local information, mineral resources, water environment, monitoring networks and conservation areas. A Target Plan was generated by combining layers representing the main factors that affect groundwater management and mineral planning in the region. A ranking system was developed to identify areas of high and low sensitivity with regard to groundwater resources and therefore allow better decisions for future planning.

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This study presents the hydrogeological impact assessment of the Kazan Trona project area, Turkey, where solution mining will be used to extract the source. Geological, hydrogeological and hydrogeochemical data were used to define the hydrogeological units and flow conditions in the area. Three aquifers systems were identified and interactions between them were considered in a conceptual hydrogeological model. A finite difference groundwater flow model was then developed to represent aquifer systems and the flow conditions. The model outputs have shown good agreement between the observed and simulated heads, and flow conditions. The resulting model was used in conjunction with a three dimensional transport model to simulate the impacts of the solution mining of trona deposit on groundwater resources in the area. The results demonstrate that pilot well solution-mining of trona deposit will not have a significant impact on the quality of groundwater resources in the overlying aquifers.

Read paper (1.7 MB PDF)