InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Humans' Dependence on Earth's Mineral Resources > Unit 3: Mining and Mining Impacts > Activity 3.2 - Ore Grades, Waste, and Remediation
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Activity 3.2 - Ore Grades, Waste, and Remediation

Leah Joseph (Ursinus College)
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These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards as detailed below. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more.

Overview

This activity provides opportunity for several different, scaffolded, applications of mathematics (SEP P5) and also for some discussion of CCC C3: scale, proportion, and quantity.

Science and Engineering Practices

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking: Use mathematical, computational, and/or algorithmic representations of phenomena or design solutions to describe and/or support claims and/or explanations. HS-P5.2:

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions: Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future. HS-P6.2:

Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. HS-P4.1:

Cross Cutting Concepts

Scale, Proportion and Quantity: The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs. HS-C3.1:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Natural Resources: All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors. HS-ESS3.A2:

  1. This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

    • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
    • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
    • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
    • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
    • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.

  2. This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

    This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

    • Scientific Accuracy
    • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
    • Pedagogic Effectiveness
    • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
    • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

    For more information about the peer review process itself, please see https://serc.carleton.edu/teachearth/activity_review.html.


This page first made public: Oct 16, 2014

Summary

This activity focuses on the interrelationships of ore grades, economics, mining impacts/decisions, and other factors. It is intended as a small-group activity, where different groups of students work on one of three different parts, with classroom discussion as a follow-up.

Learning Goals

Upon completion of this segment, students should be able to:

  • Use spatial and quantitative skills to interpret geological information.
  • Calculate the amount of metals obtained and the amounts of waste created through mining.
  • Evaluate the impacts of various factors on an ore's cut-off grade.
  • Compare the pros and cons of continuing mining in an area and weigh different remediation approaches.

Context for Use

This approximately 25-minute activity, intended for an introductory geoscience class, introduces concepts related to mining and mining issues. Ideally students complete the activity in small groups, followed by brief group summaries and class discussion. Students should complete the background reading for this unit but need no other content knowledge. Students will be asked to do some basic math conversions and calculations.

Description and Teaching Materials

This activity is intended as a small-group (2–4 students) activity followed by whole-class review/discussion.

This activity has three different parts called "sections." Students will need most of an entire class time (40–45 minutes) to complete the entire handout (all three sections) and discuss. To complete the activity in about 25 minutes instead, each student group should complete only one of the three sections (in about 15 minutes), each group a different section. In this situation, the instructor would divide this handout into three separate handouts, each handout going to a different section. At the end of class, the instructor should ask groups to briefly summarize the questions they worked on (and their answers) and lead discussion to ensure the concepts are shared between groups.

Ore Grades, Waste, and Remediation Student Handout in Word (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 8.8MB Oct5 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 3.5MB Oct5 14)

Ore Grades, Waste, and Remediation Answer Key in Word


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and
in PDF.


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Ore Grades, Waste, and Remediation PowerPoint.


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This PowerPoint allows for projecting the map from Section 1 (and projecting the answers drawn on the map for Section 1), the graphs from Section 2, and the road map from Section 3. These may be helpful if printing out in color is not an option and/or to help student groups review their answers with each other as part of the whole-class discussion.

Teaching Notes and Tips

  • It might be helpful to review the definitions of "ore grade" and "cut-off grade" at the start of the activity.
  • This activity includes the use of some basic math skills. Instructors might want to work through sample calculations if they think students will struggle with the proportions and unit conversions used in this activity.
  • Ideally students will complete this activity in groups, although the activity can be done individually.
  • This activity can be used after the Muffin Mining activity OR it can be used instead of the Muffin Mining activity (but still after a discussion of mining methods based on the pre-class reading/PowerPoint [found here: Unit 3 Pre-Class Reading] and the optional pre-class homework on the Abandoned Mine Lands & SuperFund/National Priorities List) as determined by the amount of class time and the interests of the instructor.
    • If class time is limited, then students should be broken up into small groups. Each group will do only one section of the activity (it has three sections), and then the instructor should follow up with a review/discussion so that each group is exposed to each section. Ideally, students can present their results and explain their section to the rest of the class. There can be more than one group working on each section, so long as all three sections are completed.
    • If the instructor has more time, students should still be broken up into small groups, but each group can complete the entire activity (all three sections).
    • Either way, this should be followed up by a class discussion.
      • In addition to each group reviewing their activities, the instructor can, once again, ask students their impressions of their results, and the types of social and environmental decisions that need to be made in the context of resource recovery.
  • Each group may need basic calculators (most cell phones are sufficient). Student groups working on Section 1 will need two different colored markers per group.
  • If printing out for the class in color is an issue, then the activity can be printed out in grayscale. It might be helpful to project (on a screen) the satellite map in color (provided in the PowerPoint version above).
  • The data (in Excel) from the Section II graphs are provided below (References and Resources Section).

Assessment

Assessments and Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes are addressed by the activity questions as listed below:

  • Use spatial and quantitative skills to interpret geological information: Calculations, map reading, and area estimates in Section 1; Graph reading and calculations in Section 2; Determination of ore grade trends in Section 3; Group discussion.
  • Calculate the amount of metals obtained and the amount of waste created through mining: Questions in Sections 1 and 2; Group discussion.
  • Evaluate the impacts of various factors on an ore's cut-off grade: Questions in Sections 2 and 3; Group discussion.
  • Compare the pros and cons of continuing mining in an area and weigh different remediation approaches: Questions in Sections 2 and 3; Group discussion.

An instructor can decide to (a) not collect or grade this assignment at all but use it to inform class discussion and information, (b) grade its completion (or level of completion) briefly, or (c) grade the individual answers for each of the questions.

An answer key is provided (see Description and Teaching Materials section above). For the thought questions, the students may provide answers additional to the ones in the answer key.

Some possible post-Unit 3 assessment questions appear on the Unit 3 page.

References and Resources

Additional Resource

Plots and Figures

Section I:

"2010 Draft Environmental Assessment for the East Pit Project and Tailings Impoundment Raise: Golden Sunlight Mines, Inc." 2010. Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Environmental Management Bureau, and the USDI Bureau of Land Management. Downloaded from http://deq.mt.gov/ea/hardrock/goldensunlight/LetterandDraftEAGSM.PDF. (See for information on the East Pit Project and nearby borrow area, East Buttress Dump Extension). This link is no longer active.

"Barrick Golden Sunlight: Current and Future Operations—Mine Design, Operations, and Closure Conference." 2012. Downloaded from https://www.mtech.edu/mwtp/2012_presentations/Seth%20Slatter.pdf. (See for information on future south possible extension of Mineral Hill and new northeast pit mine)

Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Golden Sunlight Mine Pit Reclamation, chapters 1 and 3. 2007. Montana Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Department of Land Management. Downloaded from http://deq.mt.gov/Portals/112/Public/EIS/Documents/Hardrock/GoldenSunlightSEIS/GoldenSunlightSEIS/finalSEIS/1GSMFSEISCoverIntroductionJuly2007.pdf

Google Earth for base map.

Section II:

Data for plots from: Mudd, G. M. 2009. "The Sustainability of Mining in Australia: Key Production Trends and Their Environmental Implications for the Future." Research Report No RR5, Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University and Mineral Policy Institute, Revised April 2009. Downloaded from http://users.monash.edu.au/~gmudd/files/SustMining-Aust-Report-2009-Master.pdf.

Section III:

Map ©2014 Google: Map data for base map with pathway selected based on information in reference below.

"2012 BLM Reclamation and Sustainable Mineral Development Award Winners." 2012. U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management. Downloaded from http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/extras/2012_blm_reclamation.html.

Byron, E. 2012. "New Partnership Finds Fortune in Golden Sunlight Tailings." The Billings Gazette. Downloaded from http://m.billingsgazette.com/business/new-partnership-finds-fortune-in-golden-sunlight-tailings/article_7e4c0129-846c-52f5-8d05-f1a0282c1d9b.html.

Colnar, R. 2012. "Innovative Idea at Golden Sunlight Mine Benefits the Economy, the Environment, and the Mine." Montana Mining 2012, Montana Mining Association, pgs. 32--33. Downloaded from http://www.montanamining.org/documents/newsletters/june_2012.pdf.

"Copper." Northwest Mining Association. Downloaded from http://www.nwma.org/education/copper_facts.htm on 10/10/12. (This website has since been changed.)

"Copper Uses." Viking Minerals.

Dunwell, M. A. 2010. "Draft Transportation Proposal Available for Reclamation Project near National Park." Montana Department of Environmental Quality. Downloaded from https://directory.mt.gov/online-services/deq/press/pressDetail/id/1131.

Dunwell, M. A. 2010. "McLaren Tailings Reclamation Project to Redesign Mine Waste Disposal Facility." Montana Department of Environmental Quality. Downloaded from https://deq.mt.gov/Land/abandonedmines/mclaren (Reclamation Project website).

"Fact Sheet---McLaren Tailings Reclamation Project December 2010: McLaren Tailings Reclamation Project Transportation Proposal Withdrawn, Waste Disposal Facility Redesigned." Montana Department of Environmental Quality, 2 pages. Downloaded from http://deq.mt.gov/AbandonedMines/pdfs/ProjectDocuments/McLaren/FINAL%20Fact%20Sheet%20McLaren_12-10.pdf on 10/10/12. And updated fact sheet appears here: http://deq.mt.gov/abandonedmines/mclaren.mcpx. These links are no longer active, but additional (and updated) information is available from: http://deq.mt.gov/Land/abandonedmines/mclaren.

Farr, M. R. 1991. Exploring for Copper Deposits. Hands-on Geology: K--12 Activities and Resources. Edited by Macdonald, R. H. and Stover, S. G., SEPM, 105 pgs. Downloaded from http://www.beloit.edu/sepm/Rocks_and_minerals/exploring_for_copper.html.

Fellows, M. 2010. "Gauging the Long-Term Cost of Gold Mine Production." Alchemist 60, pgs. 3--6. Downloaded from http://www.lbma.org.uk/assets/Alch6001Fellows.pdf.

French, B. 2010. :Plan Would Have Moved Waste Rock to Extract Gold: DEQ Pulls Plug on Hauling Proposal." Billings Gazette. Downloaded from http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_0066e1a6-4261-5c43-83be-529c345fec66.html.

Gevock, N. 2012. "Golden Sunlight Mine Plans Expansion."Helena Independent Record. Downloaded from http://helenair.com/news/local/golden-sunlight-mine-plans-expansion/article_70ea179c-09fe-11e2-922c-0019bb2963f4.html.

Golden Sunlight. 2012. "Mine Sites: Major Mining Operations around the World." InfoMine. Downloaded from http://www.infomine.com/minesite/minesite.asp?site=goldensunlight.

"Krugerrand." Wikipedia. Downloaded from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krugerrand.

"Mineral Resources Answer Key." 2012 Teacher Symposium Lesson Plans. The University of Arizona Geosciences. Downloaded from: http://www.geo.arizona.edu/sites/www.geo.arizona.edu/files/understanding%20ore%20deposits%20answers%20copy.pdf and http://www.geo.arizona.edu/node/264.

Peterson, L. 2012. "DEQ Receives Application to Amend Golden Sunlight Mine Permit." Downloaded from [hhttp://mtstandard.com/news/local/golden-sunlight-looks-to-amend-dump-permit/article_bdc6174e-19ed-57d6-9473-263e887be1c0.html].

Prevost, R. 2010. "Hauling Gold on the Chief Joe: Montana Officials 'Take Step Back' to Review Chief Joe Gold Transport Plan." WyoFile. Downloaded from on 10/10/12. Now at: http://www.wyofile.com/montana-officials-take-step-back-to-review-chief-joe-mine-waste-plan/.

Working Group on Geological Stocks of Metals. 2011. "Estimating Long-Run Geological Stocks of Metals."UNEP International Panel on Sustainable Resource Management, 32 pages. Downloaded from http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel/Portals/24102/PDFs/GeolResourcesWorkingpaperfinal040711.pdf.

"World Class Deposits." Copper Investing News. Downloaded from http://copperinvestingnews.com/what-makes-a-world-class-copper-deposit.

"World Class Gold Deposits." Gold Investing News. Downloaded from http://goldinvestingnews.com/world-class-gold-deposits.

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »