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It is hard to believe that a 23-meter high wall of an open pit coal mine in Maryland can just fail and “cover” two miners. Is this another instance of human hubris? I know the old adage that a slope is stable on the morning of the day it fails. But was there no monitoring of slope conditions, no sign of faults and joints that could form a failure plane, no monitoring of groundwater that might have reduced the factor of safety? Did the mine just work on the assumption that no failures had occurred before and thus conclude that no failure could occur in future. We await the news of the safety of the “covered” miner, but in the meantime we must ask these questions and wonder if it will take another round of resolute legal action to deal with complacency in the coal mines.
The California State Water Resources Control Board by Resolution 92-49 adopted a policy that an area of contaminated groundwater where cleanup cannot be achieved may be designated a Containment Zone. To date no mine in the state has been designated a containment zone, but such a designation would bring clarity and closure to many of the vexing and contentious issue surrounding mine closure in California. This is why.
Stuck in the warm sun besides the beach in southern California this week, I still had time to look up some papers on mine open pit lakes. This was done a part of an ongoing debate about sustainable development. I debate as follows: obey the law in spirit and verse–and if the jurisdiction is too corrupt to do it correctly, practice responsible mining; drop the concept of sustainable development in the context of mining–the words have too long being incorrectly used to promote irrational ideas to be of much value any more; rather talk about responsible mining–a broader and more ethical approach that incorporates the sensible parts of sustainable development; and finally make sure that when the mine is worked out, people can continue to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in, around, and in spite of the mine. Spook is a good example of what I mean. No chance for China here though.
Call it advertising if you will. By whatever name is goes, let success follow what can only be described as a magnificent gesture. We refer to the free computer code Examine2D 7.0 and the free e-book Practical Rock Engineering – New 2007 Edition available from Rocscience.
A Pennsylvania investor is suing the Ontario government because they won’t let him fill his old mine workings with solid waste, in other words use the old open pit as a landfill. His lawsuit, based on the North American Free Trade Agreement, claims that the Ontario government is diminishing the value of his property by refusing to allow productive use of it.