Development and application of isotope techniques for efficient water resources management in mining areas

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Open for proposals

Project Type

Coordinated Research Project

Project Code




Approved Date



2 - New - Collecting or Evaluating proposals


Mining operations and their liquid or solid tailings management pose potential threats to aquatic ecosystem, and the impact of contaminant discharge (e.g. acid drainage, toxic elements) or failures can result in a wide range of negative environmental, social and economic consequences. Stakeholders close to mine sites are concerned about the availability of water for local use, the security of access, and the potential for serious water contamination. Most mines cannot operate without access to a large and secure water supply. In most mining operations, water is obtained from groundwater, rivers, streams, lakes or through commercial water service suppliers. In many countries, this water is highly regulated, and permits specify optimal amounts of water that may be used. Governments play a key role in restricting the consumptive use of water among various mining operations. The use of potable water supplies for mining operations often leads to serious tensions and even conflicts. Hence, quantifying the water budget surrounding the use of mine water is crucial to mitigate, prevent and improve the best management practices. Stable and radioisotopes isotopes of water in and around mine complexes can be used to help fingerprint and trace the origin, age, flow, transport and all the complex hydrological phenomena involving water availability and quality. This CRP aims to improve the capability and expertise among Member States for the use of environmental isotope techniques to assess hydrological processes in mining areas for optimal and stewardly water resources management.


To test and develop capabilities and nuclear methodologies based on the use of isotope hydrology tools for efficient water resources assessment and management in the mining areas in Member States.

Specific objectives

To identify and characterize sources and investigate dynamics of groundwater in mining areas at local/regional scales using environmental isotopes complemented with conventional techniques.

To study water quality impacts of mining activities on freshwater bodies in the vicinity of mining areas.

To better assess water resources availability for sustainable mining operations and other uses in mining areas.

To develop best practice guidelines on integrating environmental isotopes and other indicators to assess hydrological processes for efficient water resources management in mining areas.

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