RIZZO engineers and scientists have decades of experience providing engineering, design, and construction oversight services to the mining industry, particularly in South America. Our client list includes some of the largest global mining firms operating around the world. We service the mining industry through a particular emphasis on geotechnical, geophysical, hydrogeological, environmental, and seismic analyses and studies. Our projects in the mining industry have included underground mining and tunnels, open pit mining, and tailings dams.


A large majority of these projects are in remote and previously untouched regions and are therefore extremely environmentally sensitive areas. Working with the mining firms, RIZZO provides Environmental Impact Assessments to help ensure the preservation of the areas’ biodiversity or biological diversity.

Surveys of the local flora and fauna allow for biological monitoring of the area that could potentially be affected by the ore deposits. The survey results determine the impact of pollutants over live elements and the number of pollutants with which organisms interact.

Through hydrological, hydrogeological, and geophysical characterization studies, RIZZO engineers and scientists are also able to determine the optimal management of water resources, which is required for production operations and community activities. Simulating hydrological behavior allows the identification of eventual contaminant migration, determines contaminant concentration, establishes response times available for mitigation measures, and defines environmental impacts.


I. Environmental Assessments

Underground and open pit mining produces waste materials which have the potential to detrimentally impact surrounding areas. An increase in environmental concerns has led to stronger regulations created to alleviate the potentially negative impacts of mining on the environment. Environmental studies, wastewater management, and water resource planning are thus critical to reducing the negative impacts that could occur as a result of underground or surface mining. Accordingly, RIZZO works with mining companies to assess the natural environment and design mitigation measures to ensure minimum impact to the surrounding environment.


II. Mine Infrastructure Engineering

Global mining companies utilize open pit mining when minerals and ores exist near the surface of the earth and the overlying material is relatively thin or unsuitable for tunneling. The overlying waste material is relocated, allowing for the minerals and ore to be accessed, processed, and transported.

In most cases, a series of crushers and conveyor systems are used to separate the minerals and ores and to relocate the excess earthen materials. As the mining progresses, the crushing equipment may need to be relocated to a site where excavated waste materials were disposed in order to be closer to current mining activity. RIZZO engineers and scientists conduct geotechnical and geological investigations and slope stability analyses of the waste material to ensure the stability of the crushing machinery foundation.

Our firm also has extensive design engineering and construction management experience with vertical ore shafts and horizontal tunnels utilized in underground mining.


III. Tailings Dams

Tailings (fine-grained ore wastes) generated by mining activities generally cannot be reprocessed or reused. Consequently, permanent storage becomes the only feasible option for tailings management. Storing tailings in ponds, created by erecting a dam, allows sedimentation of the particles, thereby reducing the potential for wind transport to populated areas.

Tailings dam stability analyses are a major component of RIZZO’s mining-related engineering services. RIZZO commonly develops tailings storage facility dam break simulations intended to assess potential impacts downstream, as caused by possible failures, and allows engineers to readily assess possible failure scenarios by identifying initial dam conditions, probable flood maps, and flood hydrograph estimations.

RIZZO has also completed technical audits and field inspections for tailings dams throughout the world. Technical audits are designed to confirm that dam operations are in accordance with best industry practices, to review the acceptability of techniques used in the design, and to recommend remedial actions that should be implemented to improve the tailings dam design.

RIZZO also utilizes its expertise with tailings dams to create operation and maintenance plans, which is a key element to the successful operation of these facilities. In addition to preventing dam failure, operation and maintenance plans help reduce operation costs.