Groundwater Modelling for Mining 2 - Numerical Modelling

Groundwater Modelling for Mining 2 - Numerical Modelling

Areas of Study: Geotechnics

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This course covers set-up of a numerical model, model calibration and verification, modelling predictions, and evaluation of model uncertainty.

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  • Audience Level:
  • Professional
  • Enrollment:
  • Required
  • Duration:
  • 7 hours

Course Summary


The scale and nature of mining projects may result in impacts to the receiving environment, including groundwater resources. These impacts need to be quantified before undertaking the project and throughout the mining lifecycle to ensure regulatory compliance, project sustainability, and environmental protection.

Common groundwater impacts associated with mining projects may include:

  • aquifer drawdown and/or reduction in groundwater flow due to pumping from groundwater production wells and/or dewatering of open pit/underground workings;
  • loss of groundwater discharge to surface water such as springs, lakes or streams (of particular significance during winter baseflow conditions) due to aquifer drawdown/dewatering related to mining activities;
  • seepage and associated contaminant transport from mine waste units such as waste rock piles, heap leach piles, tailings storage facilities, backfilled and/or flooded pits/underground workings; and
  • off-site migration of contaminant plumes in groundwater aquifers (originating from mine waste units) and potential discharge of contaminants into the receiving surface water (springs, lakes or streams).
The use of numerical groundwater models enables decision makers to study and evaluate potential impacts of large and complex mining projects. Sophisticated models and modelling platforms are, however, no guarantee of good modelling practice. The complexities of groundwater models used for impact assessment may even lead to misuse and/or misinterpretation.

This series of two courses on groundwater modelling describes the broader concepts of groundwater modelling related to impact assessment for mining projects. Yet, these guidelines reflect generally accepted best practices in groundwater modelling and as such should be applicable to a wide range of groundwater modelling applications.

This groundwater modeling series is based on the British Columbia Groundwater Modelling Guidelines which were commissioned by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment (BC MoE). This course has been modified and condensed to suit the format and (international) audience of an Edumine course.

This Course

Groundwater Modelling for Mining 2 - Numerical Modelling covers set-up of a numerical model, model calibration and verification, modelling predictions, and evaluation of model uncertainty.

The course comprises ten learning sessions of 30 to 60 minutes each, several case studies, and interactive reviews that confirm achievement of the learning objectives. The total duration of the course is approximately seven hours.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the process of selection of model parameters and construction, calibration and verification of the model.
  • Understand model predictions and evaluation of model uncertainty.

Recommended Background

  • An understanding of the principles and theory of groundwater flow and solute transport.

Christoph Wels

Dr. Christoph Wels is vice president of Robertson GeoConsultants Inc., with head office in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Wels has a M.Sc. in Watershed Hydrology and a Ph.D. in Hydrogeology and over 20 years of experience in consulting to the mining industry worldwide.

Dr. Wels' main areas of expertise include groundwater flow and contaminant transport modeling for mine sites, design and implementation of seepage and contaminant control strategies and assessment of mine closure options. Dr. Wels also serves as a third-party reviewer of hydrogeological studies completed for mine water management and/or mine permitting on behalf of government agencies, mining companies and other consulting firms. Over the years he has completed and/or reviewed over 100 hydrogeological projects in Canada, USA, Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.

Dr. Wels has written over 30 technical papers on seepage and groundwater movement, contaminant transport, cover design and mine closure planning and was the lead author for the BC MoE Groundwater Modeling Guidelines for the Mining Industry which are available at this link.

Dan Mackie

Dan Mackie is a Senior Consultant in the SRK Vancouver Groundwater Group with 12 years of experience in the mining and water supply sectors. Mr. Mackie's experience includes: physical hydrogeology of fractured rock and porous media systems; design and implementation of groundwater characterization and assessment programs for open pit and underground mine engineering studies; mine closure and mine permitting; groundwater modeling; integrated mine water management studies for engineering and permitting projects; and, community to municipal-scale water supply assessments. Mr. Mackie has worked on projects in Canada (BC, YT, NWT, Nunavut, Quebec), USA and South America.

Jacek Scibek

Jacek Scibek, M.Sc., B.Sc., is a Hydrogeologist with specialisation in physical hydrogeology and numerical modeling. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Geography & Earth Sciences from the Simon Fraser University and a Master of Science degree in Hydrogeology from Simon Fraser University. He has participated in numerous research projects related to hydrogeology and hydrology, and holds a certificate in spatial information systems. His M.Sc., work included characterisation and numerical modeling of two regional surficial aquifers, including groundwater-surface water interactions and climate change impact assessment with use of GIS and spatial analysis. At SRK, Jacek has participated in mining-related groundwater data analysis and numerical modeling assessments for both underground and open pit mines, as well as groundwater supply projects, field sampling of multi port wells and packer testing.

Lawrence Charlebois

Lawrence Charlebois holds a B.Sc. in Geological-Environmental Engineering from Queen's University and a M.A.Sc. in Mining Engineering from the University of British Columbia. Mr. Charlebois is an Engineer-In-Training in the province of British Columbia with over 4 years of environmental and mine waste project experience. Lawrence has been a geological engineer with Robertson GeoConsultants since 2009 and has diverse experience in environmental, hydrogeological, and geotechnical investigations in a variety of climates and geologic settings. His research background concerns the rheology (flow behaviour) of mine tailings and tailings deposit formation processes. Recently, Mr. Charlebois has been active in field and laboratory investigations regarding the deposition and atmospheric drying of thickened mine tailings.

Paul Ferguson

Dr. Paul Ferguson has a B.Sc. in Geology and a Ph.D. in Geochemistry with 7 years of professional experience in academic research and consulting. He has published several scientific papers in the areas of aqueous and isotope geochemistry and presented at numerous international conferences. Dr. Ferguson is the Senior Geochemist at Robertson GeoConsultants Inc. and specializes in evaluating the impact of mining on local groundwater resources. He joined Robertson GeoConsultants in 2008 and has been a consultant to the mining and environmental industry in the areas of:

- contaminant plume characterization & remediation for open pit & underground mines & contaminated sites;

- hydrogeology & contaminant load balances

- project management