BESTECH undertook a comprehensive study of water management for the Thompson underground mine.

The study was necessitated by evaluating current water management practices against Vale Normative Documents and Provincial Legislation, identifying potential hazards, and ensuring the mining operations align with best practices and regulatory standards.

The approach involved several key activities:

  • Reviewing current water management practices to understand the existing systems.
  • Conducting a gap analysis to determine discrepancies between current practices and required standards.
  • Performing a risk assessment using the Bow-Tie methodology to identify and prioritize the top five water-related hazards and develop corresponding mitigation plans.
  • Developing a site water balance that includes pump and sump capacities, providing a detailed assessment of the dewatering system’s capabilities and the process water requirements necessary to support a 5-year mining plan.

Additionally, an underground water management training plan was developed for Thompson employees, covering:

  • The hazards associated with water underground and the controls to mitigate these risks.
  • An overview of the Thompson mine dewatering system.
  • Information on sources of water, material unwanted events (MUEs), and their consequences.
  • Best practices in water management in relation to operational standards.

The study revealed a significant, previously unidentified influx of surface water into the mine, increasing annually. This finding led to a critical recommendation to redirect efforts towards reducing the entry of surface water into the mine as a strategic move to decrease the overall demand for the underground water management system. This proactive approach aims to enhance the efficiency of water management practices and reduce the associated risks and operational costs. The comprehensive training provided to employees further ensures ongoing vigilance and adherence to best practices in water management, aligning daily operations with regulatory standards and improving overall site safety and sustainability.