The purpose of this course is to encourage environmentally-sensitive mining practice by educating mining engineers and environmental professionals about impacts of metals on fish, other aquatic species, and human health. A related objective is to promote collaboration between engineers and scientists with respect to prospecting, design, development, permitting, operation, and closure of mines to reduce discharge of metals to the aquatic environment.
This course is an overview of metals and related “semi-metals” (aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, gold, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, tin, uranium, and zinc) that are mined or emitted as by-products of mining. We will begin with a description of aquatic ecosystems, and how mining and other human activities discharge metals and acid rock drainage (ARD) to these ecosystems. We will then focus on properties of metals, principles of metal toxicity, exposure pathways, factors affecting metal toxicity, and acute and chronic effects of each metal on aquatic organisms and human health. There will be a discussion of source control and remediation of metal contamination and ARD at mine sites. The course will conclude with a small group exercise in which class participants will present and discuss case studies that illustrate what has been taught.