Metal Mining Discharges - Impacts and Controls

Metal Mining Discharges - Impacts and Controls

Areas of Study: Environment and Community

Qualifies for CMS

Qualifies for Certification

This course presents the principles of ecology with respect to aquatic ecosystems, and how metals from all stages in the life of a mine are discharged to these ecosystems. The course also examines the properties of metals and discusses various toxicity testing methods and controls.


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

Course Summary


In order to understand the impacts of metals on aquatic ecosystems, it is first important to understand the principles of ecology, what an aquatic ecosystem is, and how metals from all stages in the life of a mine are discharged to these ecosystems. The author then examines the properties of metals and how they enter these ecosystems from mining and other human activities.

The author presents the properties and uses of specific metals that are mined, or byproducts of mining, in Canada and other countries, and the toxic effects of these metals on fish, other aquatic organisms, and humans.

This is followed by an explanation of various toxicity testing methods, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to prevent and control the generation and discharge of acid rock drainage (ARD).

The case studies include mine histories, the toxic metals and/or cyanide that are or were generated and discharged to the aquatic environment, actions taken to prevent and control discharge of these pollutants, and the results of the source control actions.


The course comprises 19 viewing sessions, each of approximately 30–60 minutes duration, plus supporting figures, tables, case studies, references, appendices, and interactive reviews that confirm your achievement of the learning objectives. The total duration of the course is estimated at 12 hours.

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize the principles of ecology and aquatic ecosystems and how various metals from mining interact.
  • Explain the toxic effects of these metals on fish, other aquatic organisms, and humans.
  • Identify the available toxicity testing methods and their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Describe various methods and techniques for prevention, control, and treatment of metals and acid rock drainage.

Recommended Background

  • A degree or diploma in environmental engineering, chemistry, or mining-related program.
  • Experience with the environmental aspects and concerns of mining.

Dr. Frances Solomon

Dr. Frances Solomon is an environmental biologist with a bachelor's degree in biology and minor in chemistry from the University of Rochester (Rochester, New York), and a Master's degree in environmental health and Ph.D. in fisheries from the University of Washington (Seattle). She has more than 25 years of professional experience in environmental agencies, addressing the biological impacts of toxic water pollutants, pollution prevention and control, and protection and restoration of salmon habitat.

Dr. Solomon is passionate about bringing her work experience and knowledge to the classroom. She taught "Impacts of Metals on Aquatic Ecosystems and Human Health" at the University of British Columbia (UBC), has developed an online version for Edumine, and enjoys teaching the short course "Metal Mining Discharges – Impacts and Controls" through Edumine and the UBC Mining Studies Institute. She has also taught short courses on "Impacts of Metals and Toxic Organic Chemicals on Aquatic Ecosystems and Human Health" to environmental professionals in British Columbia, Yukon, Washington State, and Alaska. Dr. Solomon currently teaches environmental science at The Evergreen State College, Tacoma campus and Western Washington University. She has taught environmental science at Northwest University in Xi'an, China and University of Washington Tacoma, and has lectured at three universities in Japan. Since 2006, she has lectured for international summer programs at the University of Washington (Seattle, USA) on the topic of water quality and salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

Dr. Solomon is a Past-President and current member of the Pacific Northwest chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and the Washington State chapter of the American Water Resources Association. She is currently President of the Board of Directors of the Coastal Watershed Institute, and is a Past-President and long-time Board member of the Seattle chapter of the Association for Women in Science.

Outside of professional and mentoring activities, Fran is an enthusiastic hiker, bicyclist, and international traveler.