Groundwater control in open pit mines in the Kursk region of the Soviet Union*

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 85, No. 959, 1992

Yu. I. Volkov, A.I. Meka and Yu. V. Ponomarenko, All Union Institute of Mining Drainage, Belgorod, Russia, P.A. Witherspoon, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and University of California, Berkeley, California, and J.E. Gale, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland

The mining of iron ore in the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly (KMA) region of the U.S.S.R. is done mostly by the open-cut method. An assembly of open pits capable of producing about 100 million tons of ore per year makes KMA the largest iron ore field in the world. Three gigantic open pits are currently in operation: Lebedinsky, Mik-hailovsky and Stoilensky. These pits are as large as 13 km2 on the surface and as deep as 230 m. The mining operations are constantly faced with the problem of flooding from aquifers that overlie the orebodies; the magnitude of the problem is evident from the fact that the present groundwater inflow to these three pits is about 110 million nf/yr. Under such conditions, safe operations and pit wall stability are of great importance, and this has been accomplished very effectively by the appropriate use of seepage barriers and drainage systems. At KMA, the most important items used in the system of groundwater control are standard pumping wells, raise wells that drain into a 20 km to 30 km long underground drift located just outside the perimeter of the pit, horizontal wells driven through the pit walls, and horizontal drains. This paper describes the mining and engineering technology that have been developed at KMA to control the groundwater systems and protect the mines from flooding.