Mine remediation is the process of minimizing the human and environmental effects of mining in an effort to restore the land to a state of reuse that will positively impact the environmental, social and economic characteristics of the area. Mine remediation can include surface and groundwater capture and treatment; capping mine waste, such as tailings and waste rock; and restoring the landscape to pre-mining beneficial uses. Once remediation is complete, the land can be used as a wildlife habitat, a residential area, a recreational area or for commercial development.
Typically, remediation data collection involves geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS), databases, visualization software and reporting software. In addition, mobile data collection technology, such as cell phones, tablets and telemetry from the field, allow for massive amounts of high-quality data to be collected effectively. Quality control checks can be built into the data collection system to ensure data is of a higher quality than paper-based data collection systems. Data can be passed to managers while the team is in the field, so managers can be notified of issues while the technicians are still out at treatment plants.
The massive amounts of data that need to be collected for large-scale remediation projects can present many challenges. Large-scale remediation efforts require the collection and analysis of data in real time to allow for rapid decision making. This can be a challenge, however, in a remote environment with unfavorable weather conditions or rugged terrain that result in poor cell service and an unstable internet connection, which may render digital technology unreliable and require paper-based manual data collection. Manual data collection creates a lag between the collection of data and its use by mine managers, and it creates a less efficient workflow, particularly when multiple people need access to critical data.