Environmental applications of surface and airborne geophysics in mining

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 86, No. 966, 1993

A. King, Inco Exploration and Technical Services Inc., and M. Pesowski, Geo-Physi-Con Co. Ltd.

Certain environmental problems can substantially alter the physical properties of the subsurface. In such cases, geophysical methods can be used to map the distribution of subsurface contamination or buried wastes prior to drilling or sampling. For example, inorganic contamination by acids, bases, salts, or metallic ions can be detected by instruments that measure ground conductivity; metallic objects such as buried drums, pipelines, etc. can be located by magnetic survey, and radioactive mine waste can be mapped by radiometric techniques. Geophysical methods can also be used to characterize site geology. If carried out prior to development, they can assist in identifying areas of high- and low-permeability and sources of natural contamination. The methods can also be used to establish baseline values and to locate stable areas for development of environmentally sensitive facilities. Application of geophysical methods to environmental problems is illustrated with examples from base-metal mines, uranium operations, and potash and oil-sands operations. Particular attention is given to the problem of acid mine drainage.
Keywords: Environment, Exploration, Geophysical methods.