Assessment of the degree of protection of the aquatic environment during the development of large porphyry copper deposits

The process of developing copper ore deposits inevitably affects the environment, including the state of underground and surface water sources. This manifests in the formation of cones of depression around open pits and of acidic open pit, mine and dump waters that affect the quality of water resources in the mining area. Primarily, these problems are associated with the development of copper sulphide deposits. Until recently, porphyry copper ore mining was considered unprofitable due to low grade of ore and the need to crush and process large amounts of ROM ore annually. Due to the significant scope of flotation beneficiation of porphyry copper ore, a relatively larger amount of water is required. Substantial volumes are taken out of the water cycle due to the filling of the pore space during the storage of concentration tailings. The article examines extracting and processing porphyry copper ore, including the assessment of groundwater and surface water resources, the degree of hydrodynamic interaction, the development of a c cone of depression in groundwater, as well as the forecast of the chemical composition of open-pit and dump water. Based on the information obtained, the main principles for minimizing environmental damage during the development of porphyry copper deposits are determined, including the need to intercept dump water to prevent it from entering water bodies, as well as for organizing (if possible) internal dumping and the possibility of using tailings to produce backfill material for liquidation of depleted open pits.

Keywords: porphyry copper ores, aqueous run-off model, geofiltration model, hydrochemical model, neutralization of quarry and sub-basement waters, circulating water supply, concentration tailings, liquidation of spent quarries.
For citation:

Gonchar N. V., Chetverkin I. A., Vishnyak A. I., Starikov I. V. Assessment of the degree of protection of the aquatic environment during the development of large porphyry copper deposits. MIAB. Mining Inf. Anal. Bull. 2023;(12-1):16—26. [In Russ]. DOI: 10.25018/0236_1493_2023_122_0_16.

Issue number: 12
Year: 2023
Page number: 16-26
ISBN: 0236-1493
UDK: 504.433
DOI: 10.25018/0236_1493_2023_122_0_16
Article receipt date: 05.10.2023
Date of review receipt: 25.10.2023
Date of the editorial board′s decision on the article′s publishing: 10.11.2023
About authors:

Gonchar N. V., Vice President for Environmental and Industrial Safety, Cand. Sci. (Eng.), Honored Ecologist of the Russian Federation, ORCID iD 0009−0002−0180−9592, JSC “Russian Copper Company”, Ekaterinburg, 620075, Russia,;
Chetverkin I. A., Director, ORCID iD 0009−0003−4224−4441, MMPI Research and Production Company, LLC, Ekaterinburg, 620014, Russian Federation,;
Vishnyak A. I., Chief Hydrogeologist, ORCID iD 0009−0005−8839−0959, MMPI Research and Production Company, LLC, Ekaterinburg, 620014, Russia,;
Starikov I. V., Head of the Environmental and Industrial Safety Investment Project Support Department, ORCID iD 0009−0006−6289−3109, JSC “Russian Copper Company”, Ekaterinburg, 620075, Russia,


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