Environmental Services for the Mining Industry

Mining typically requires large capital investments, energy inputs, landscape alteration, and long time horizons, making effective environmental and social risk management strategies critical. Emerging issues related to the management and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate variability drive a need to reshape strategic planning and operations and focus on sustainability. A robust strategy for environmental management can help companies achieve more sustainable operations, minimize environmental risks and potential natural resource damages, and maintain social license to operate, thereby protecting reputational capital.

Exponent brings unique, multi-disciplinary technical and regulatory expertise to solving challenging, complex, and time-sensitive environmental management and health problems for the mining industry. We have pioneered cutting-edge analyses to address the risks of chemicals, new technologies, environmental impacts, biological stressors (e.g., introduced species), and physical alterations of ecosystems. Our expertise includes evaluating issues related to climate change, such as water resource availability, water management impacts, greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigation options. Our team of environmental services consultants advises mining clients on managing business risks by identifying opportunities for operational improvement, assessing risks associated with alternative technologies, and preparing companies for the regulatory and trading environments of the future.
Many mining companies are adopting the mining principles laid out by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) to implement sustainable mining practices. With this approach, companies implement the ICMM mitigation hierarchy—avoid, minimize, rectify, and compensate—to assess and address risks and impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services, with the goal of achieving no-net-loss of biodiversity. An inter-disciplinary approach is required to, for instance, predict extinction risk, assess anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity, design actions to recover degraded ecosystems, and estimate appropriate compensatory measures.

Exponent has long been a trusted environmental services advisor to mining companies for issues involving contaminant fate and transport, baseline conditions, and the environmental and health effects of inorganic and organic chemicals at active, closed, and abandoned mine sites. Exponent’s broad experience provides unique insights for developing new mineral extraction and processing sites, evaluating operations, and assessing legacy sites in support of transactions (e.g., mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, bankruptcy). Our experience includes implementing work at mining sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, otherwise known as Superfund) and state-equivalents, and in litigation.

Our environmental services for the mining industry include:

  • Litigation Consulting and Expert Testimony – Reconstruction of historical operations and waste management, state of knowledge and standard of care, cost allocation, cost recovery, and toxic torts.
    • Environmental Forensics – Fingerprinting, isotopic, and other analyses to support source identification and attribution.
    • Fate and Transport – Analyses for fugitive dust, groundwater, surface water, sediment, and tailings releases.
    • Air and Water Quality Regulatory Consulting – Water and air quality compliance, fenceline monitoring, permitting, and other compliance support.
    • Health and Environmental Risk Assessment and Management – Human health and ecological risk assessment, risk communication, bioavailability and toxicity assessment, natural resource damages assessment, and restoration analysis, including within the ICMM mitigation hierarchy (avoid, minimize, restore, compensate).
    • Sustainable Operations – Risk and reliability assessments, ecosystem services evaluation, climate change vulnerability analysis and associated financial disclosures, water management, and mine waste management to help clients achieve more sustainable operations.
    • Environmental Baseline Evaluations and Transactional Due Diligence – Sampling strategy and implementation oversight, geospatial analysis and data management, environmental liabilities identification, assessment, and financial reporting support.

Exponent also offers complementary services, including failure analysis (e.g., for equipment, dams, buildings, and structures), engineering evaluations (e.g., tailings dam and impoundment safety), construction management (e.g., probabilistic cost and schedule analysis and proactive risk assessments), and health sciences (e.g., toxicology, bioavailability assessment).

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