Client: New Mexico Copper
Location: South Central, New Mexico
Challenge. Establish baseline environmental conditions for permitting of mining operations.
Solution. In support of obtaining a state mining permit for the Copper Flat Mine project, a porphyry copper-molybdenum-gold-silver deposit located in the Las Animas mining district of south central New Mexico, INTERA developed a sampling and analysis plan (SAP), completed environmental baseline studies, and designed and implemented surface water and groundwater characterization to evaluate the existing environmental impacts at the site. The sampling program included taking measurements and collecting samples from over 40 locations in the Lower Rio Grande and Las Animas Creek Basins on a quarterly basis. We gauged water levels in monitoring wells, measured volumetric flow from springs, seeps, and streams, installed and maintained five automated water quality and flow samplers on intermittent streams, and profiled thermal and chemical gradients in the water column of an old pit lake. Other portions of the baseline study included cultural resources, natural resources, soils, climate, and air quality monitoring. Combining data from the study with historic field measurements collected by previous operators at the mine, INTERA developed a relational database linked to ArcGIS to aid decision making for monitoring well placement, groundwater remediation, and negotiations with regulators regarding groundwater and surface-water quality. Additional permitting tasks included obtaining a discharge permit and submitting a Stage I Abatement Plan to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Ground Water Quality Bureau.