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World First: Passive Closure Mine Reclamation

Integrated Sustainability champions technical innovation and data-driven equipment to deliver the world's first Passive Closure Mine Reclamation project. 

In 2018, a slumbering industrial past was brought back into sharp focus for a community in Eastern British Columbia. Deep in the mountains, an inspection of a tailings pond dam wall built in the early ’50s was deemed to need significant remediation work.

The HB Dam, located 10 km south of Salmo, BC, was initially constructed in 1955 to retain and store tailings from the nearby HB Mine, which was in operation until 1978, and decommissioned in 2005. After the earth dam of the tailings pond endured heavy rainfall in 2012, the HB Mines Tailings Facility became an environmental focus of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK). In 2016 it was approved for its passive closure, which includes stabilization of the dam and remediation of the tailings area.

RDCK issued A public tender to reinforce the topography, dewater the pond, and restore the natural habitat. Nominated as the general contractor, Integrated Sustainability led the project management, civil earthworks, geomatics, and construction remediation with an innovative value-added solution with assistance from Finning.

The remediation site extended over 1km and required responsible dewatering and mixing of over 61,000 m3 of water. With many rare amphibians, such as the Western Painted Turtle, Northern Rubber Boa, and Long-toed Salamander residing onsite, an extensive multi-year amphibian and reptile salvage and relocation program was completed. The site is being returned to its wildlife habitat upon project completion, which is integral to the project’s overall success.

Using Innovative Machine-Monitoring Technology to Improve Equipment Visibility in Real-Time

With the site spanning over a kilometre in length in a remote location, Integrated Sustainability incorporated an innovative blend of geomatics, drone surveys, site management, and technology-enabled equipment to enable closer construction management.

This included setting up a SITECH® network to cover the entire project site, deploying geospatial drones to map out and survey the area, and connecting a modern fleet of Cat equipment’s built-in Trimble® GPS infrastructure to provide accurate and immediate insight into how machines were being utilized on-site. With all the equipment data available in a centralized, cloud-based dashboard that can be quickly and easily accessed off-site, the management team made informed decisions about how to manage the fleet in the field.

This methodology drives value through reduced equipment and operator hours and improves fuel efficiency. All of which further enhances the project’s environmental credentials upon completion.

Speaking to the project, Kris Kwiatkowski, Geomatics Manager at Integrated Sustainability, said:

As a team, we are excited to see the outcome of this project improving the safety and sustainability of the region – and drive that knowledge and experience across other sites like this in British Columbia and around the world.

With a blend of environmental and social risk management, responsible use of public funding, and a reduction of fossil fuel use, this project is an exemplary Venn diagram on ESG sustainability: closing the chapter on the past and paving the way for future remediation works.