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alternative water-supply evaluation, exploration, and engineering

alternative water-supply evaluation, exploration, and engineering
client
ArcelorMittal Minorca Mine Inc.
location
Minnesota

When ArcelorMittal's Minorca Mine in Virginia, Minnesota, determined its supply of taconite ore was becoming depleted at its Laurentian Reserve, the company began permitting of the East Reserve expansion area.

Barr provided environmental and engineering support to the company in preparing scoping documents for a joint state-federal EIS submittal and a number of support studies for the review, including an East Reserve Mine groundwater study. The evaluation of dewatering activities at the Corsica and Mary Ellen Pits revealed the potential to impact water levels in nearby Canton Pit, the City of Biwabik’s primary drinking water supply.

Because ArcelorMittal’s planned pumping could necessitate the lowering of Biwabik’s water-intake barge in the Canton Pit, an evaluation of the feasibility of alternative water supplies for the city was required. Barr prepared an analysis of alternatives consisting of new well construction, rehabilitation of the city’s existing abandoned wells, Embarrass Lake water source, and Embarrass Mine Pit water source. Analysis included review of water quantity and quality, piping routes, water treatment requirements, operational changes, and opinions of project costs.

The Canton Pit water elevation has decreased as predicted, and Barr has prepared the plans and specifications for ArcelorMittal’s use to accomplish relocation of the barge when needed to maintain the existing water source for Biwabik.

As ArcelorMittal monitored water levels in the Canton Pit, Barr assisted with engineering considerations for relocation of the floating raft pump station so that the city’s water supply could remain uninterrupted in the short term. Barr also assisted with more detailed evaluations for several, potential, long-term options that were identified. Our work included developing water balance models for potential surface water sources to estimate future water levels and preparing an exploration plan to evaluate the viability of potential, new groundwater sources for the city.

Barr completed the final design phase, including design of raw water piping to the Embarrass Mine Pit, prior to commencement of the construction phase.