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Water supply for a permafrost mine project in northern Russia

A4   |   Letter

SRK News | Issue 55: Mine Water Management

Houcyne El Idrysy, Principal Consultant (Hydrogeology)
Lenar Sultanov, Hydrogeologist     


Mine project Feasibility Studies (FS) usually require the involvement of various consultancies and process design companies where cooperation between the involved parties is critical to the success of the study. Lack of communication between the parties and/or understanding of the study requirements can lead to gaps in the scope of work and hinder the study’s quality.

Recently, SRK UK was involved in a FS for the Mangazeisky Silver project in the permafrost region of northern Russia, for which parallel International and Russian Standard studies had to be undertaken to satisfy both the local and international requirements for the project. SRK’s scope of work comprised, among other disciplines, the hydrogeology and dewatering study for the proposed mine, which consists of two shallow pits and underground workings. Also, SRK was commissioned to review the water supply study, which had been undertaken by a local contractor.

Despite the fact that the water supply study was part of the local contactor’s scope of work, SRK designed the mine hydrogeology and dewatering investigations to take into account the potential need for boreholes by the water supply study. The main aim was to collect data for modelling the permafrost, and estimate the subpermafrost aquifer parameters and use these in a groundwater model to estimate the potential inflow of groundwater into the mine.

The water supply investigations (surface geophysics and borehole drilling) by a local contractor resulted in low yielding boreholes unable to fulfil the plant water demand requirement. However, the boreholes SRK designed encountered aquifer zones with higher flow rate that could fulfil the plant water demand.

The groundwater model that has been developed primarily to estimate inflows of groundwater into the mine was used to simulate pumping from water supply wells and assess the aquifer potential and sustainability of the water supply. SRK’s involvement, therefore, minimised the water supply risk to the project and the potential cost of additional investigation.

The client appointed SRK to remain involved in the drilling and testing of the actual water supply wells. SRK UK involved SRK RU in supervising the hydrogeological investigations in the FS and the testing of the actual water supply wells.

SRK Latin America