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Product examples - Makmal

Maps

Change of the mining footprint through time - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan


This product demonstrates how freely available satellite imagery can be used to monitor changes in the amount of
land used by mining activity (i.e. the footprint) through time.

It shows how the tailings dam has changed between 1996 and 2011. Although the area occupied by the tailings has appeared to change relatively little over this period, the volume is likely to have increased somewhat. The satellite images also show that the size of the tailings pond varied quite considerably during this period.

The ability to monitor the changes in the land used by mining activity is demonstrated here using Landsat TM satellite imagery, which has been processed by experts to highlight the area of the tailings dam.

This product relates to indicator A1 Total land used by mining and milling.

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Cadastral information - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

A variety of datasets has been acquired for the EO-MINERS demonstration site in Kyrgyzstan. These include satellite imagery, road network information, a land-use map and elevation data. Many of these datasets provide information that may be useful beyond the scope of the EO-MINERS project. Here, a selection of these datasets is presented, showing how these different datasets can be combined to produce cadastral maps.

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Air and surface water contamination potential - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

This product assesses the potential impact of mining-related contamination on air and water quality in the Kazarman region. It shows the content of two metals (gold and arsenic) in relation to surface water and where it may flow.

Mining activity in this region comprises the processing of gold ore at the Kombinat plant. During ore processing, dust is first released into the atmosphere before being deposited at ground level, and then subsequently remobilised by wind or rain water, for example. Dust containing high levels of toxic metals can pose a health risk if ingested or inhaled. By measuring the content of elements typically associated with gold ore (e.g. gold and arsenic) in soil and dust, we are able to determine the extent and severity of potential air and water contamination caused by the mining activity. Therefore, the gold and arsenic content was measured in 47 samples of topsoil, alluvial deposits, mine tailings and house dust collected in the region.

As can be seen in both maps, the area most affected by dust emitted during ore processing is that within 2 km of Kombinat plant and tailings. In most cases, less than harmful amounts of toxic arsenic were observed close to drainage channels, meaning that there is generally a low risk of water contamination. However, potentially harmful amounts of arsenic were measured in the tailings, meaning that flooding or failure of the dam could potentially transfer this material downstream and contaminate the river.

The chemical composition of the dust and soil samples was measured using the aqua regia digestion method applied to particles less than 0.063 mm. Drainage channels were mapped using a 1-m Digital Elevation Model derived from WorldView-II satellite imagery.

This product relates to indicator E2 Process waters and contaminated surface run-off/stormwater.

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Soil and surface water contamination potential - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

This product assesses the potential impact of mining-related contamination on soil and water quality in the Kazarman region. It shows the soil content of cyanide in relation to surface water and where it may flow.

Mining activity in this region comprises the processing of gold ore at the Kombinat plant. During processing, compounds containing cyanide (i.e. sodium cyanide) are used to extract gold from the ore through a process known as heap leaching. Cyanide is highly toxic and, if released into the environment, can be harmful or even lethal to humans and animals if ingested or inhaled at sufficiently high doses. Recognised guidelines suggest that more than 1.0 mg/kg of cyanide in soil could be harmful to the environment and possibly humans. By measuring the content of cyanide in soil, we are able to determine the extent and severity of potential soil and water contamination caused by the mining activity.

This product shows that the cyanide content of all samples collected in the Kazarman region is much less than the guideline amounts for potentially causing harm to the environment and humans. It therefore suggests that none of the land-use/land cover types are affected by cyanide contamination. Although the map indicates the presence of cyanide close to drainage channels and springs (activity unknown), the low cyanide content means that there is likely to be a low risk of surface water contamination.

Cyanide content was measured in samples collected from the top 5-10 cm of soil. Drainage channels were mapped using a 1-m Digital Elevation Model derived from WorldView-II satellite imagery.

This product relates to indicator E2 Process waters and contaminated surface run-off/stormwater.

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Cyanide concentration in water bodies - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

This product assesses the potential impact of contaminants on water quality. It shows the cyanide concentration in water samples from the Kazarman region, in October 2012 and April 2013.

Mining activity in this region comprises the processing of gold ore at the Kombinat plant. During processing, compounds containing cyanide (i.e. sodium cyanide) are used to extract gold from the ore through a process known as heap leaching. Cyanide is highly toxic and, if released into the environment, can be harmful or even lethal to humans and animals if ingested or inhaled at sufficiently high doses. Recognised guidelines suggest that more than 0.1 mg/l of cyanide in water could be harmful to aquatic life and possibly humans. By measuring the concentration of cyanide in streams, springs and other water bodies it is possible to determine the extent and severity of potential water contamination caused by the mining activity.

The map shows that, at the time of sampling, water contamination due to cyanide is not a concern, since the concentration in all water samples is much less than the guideline level for potentially causing harm to aquatic life and humans. As anticipated, the highest cyanide concentration was found in the tailings dam pond (0.046 mg/l in October 2012). However, stream samples taken directly downstream of the dam during the same time period have much lower cyanide concentrations, suggesting that the dam is effectively retaining the material in the tailings. Moreover, measurements taken downstream of the dam in April 2013 also indicate that less than harmful
concentrations of cyanide were present.

Repeat measurements of the cyanide concentration in water at regular time intervals provides a useful way of monitoring seepage from the dam and potential water contamination.

This product relates to indicator E3 Aqueous contaminant releases, contaminant concentrations in water bodies and E5 Seepage from engineered structures.

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Tailings dam stability - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

This product shows the potential impact of geohazards on the tailings dam stability, and the possible consequences should the dam stability be compromised.

It suggests that there is a moderate risk of the tailings dam stability being affected by seismic activity and landslides. Should the stability be affected and material leak from the dam, the potential downstream surface drainage contamination pathway suggests that it should not affect the town of Kazarman, but may however contaminate the Naryn River. In the event of a complete failure of the tailings dam, subsequent mud flows could represent a major threat to the Kazarman region. In order to determine the potential impact of such an event, the maximum possible downstream extension of a 5-m thick mud flow was modelled. According to this model, potentially only the most western part of the Kazarman urban area might be affected by the mud flow. However, it is also likely that the western part of the Naryn river floodplain could be affected by the flow, potentially leading to grassland contamination.

The mud flow model was computed by assuming a constant mud thickness of 5 m. The actual thickness should decrease with distance from the source, depending on the viscosity of the mud. This product relates to indicator G3 Dam stability (water saturation in retaining dams).

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Radioactivity - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

This product shows radioactivity levels measured in the Kazarman region in 2012. Radioactivity was mapped using a combination of Geiger-counter measurements and the content of the radioactive element thorium (Th) in dust and soil samples collected in this region. Although there are other radioactive elements, thorium was chosen because it is an abundant, naturally-occurring, long-lived element, and is therefore ideal for a general representation of
radioactivity.

It shows low levels of radioactivity around the Kombinat processing plant and nearby mine tailings. Higher levels of radioactivity were observed in southern and north-eastern areas, which is due to the natural radioactivity associated with the type of rocks (i.e. granites) found at these locations. Therefore, the measured radioactivity in the Kazarman region is naturally occurring and at low levels that are unlikely to be harmful.

Although this product does not directly relate to one of the indicators, it could provide supporting information for Water Quality indicator E3 (aqueous contaminant releases and contaminant concentrations in surface water bodies).

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