Could you provide a brief introduction to Forsgren Associates, including the key services you provide for the mining sector?
Forsgren Associates is a consulting firm that provides engineering, environmental, construction and management services. Our operations within the mining industry have grown steadily over the past 20 years and are more prominent now than ever.
Within the mining industry, we primarily help with civil infrastructure projects. We are not mining engineers, so we will not design your pits, underground operations, or ore processing facilities. Mines are typically remote, and like cities, require their own infrastructure for drinking water, wastewater processing, and storm water management along with roads, bridges, and other facilities. This is where Forsgren comes in.
What do Forsgren’s activities in Nevada’s mining industry look like?
When Forsgren became more deliberate with our mining work 20 years ago, we turned to Nevada as the core focus. We recognized the State’s potential early on and are happy to continue working here as it is now recognized as the best region to work in for mining.
We recently helped a Nevada gold mine improve the efficiency of its water management by providing engineering and permitting support to consolidate the operations and compliance for previously separate systems at two mines. We helped another gold mine with a major de-watering project by developing a simplified design with cost-effective materials and methods to keep costs down while still meeting the project goals. As a final example, we helped another gold mine with design and permitting of their water system as they ramped up for operation.
Navigating regulatory requirements and processes can be challenging, whether for new systems, or for bringing older systems into compliance. Forsgren has invested considerable time and effort into understanding the regulatory requirements and processes for mining in Nevada, and consequently, has significant experience with the regulatory agencies. As a result, we excel at helping operators plan, design, build, and permit their infrastructure projects efficiently and cost-effectively.
In terms of water management, what are the main challenges present in Nevada? How does Forsgren help overcome them?
Nevada is fairly dry and the water does not behave well — it is usually not present where you need it, present where you do not want it, and very difficult and expensive to move from one place to the other. Additionally, mines are dynamic in nature. As a result, strategies for managing water at a given site are constantly in flux.
One thing Forsgren does well is help its clients see the big picture. For instance, we were recently asked to design a wastewater system for a mine, and we knew that the source water came from an older well that was likely noncompliant. Rather than just design the wastewater system, we initiated a conversation with the operator about looking holistically at changes that could be made upstream that might impact operations in the future. We always try to understand the full context of each project, and thereby help our clients to make better informed decisions about their projects.
What services does Forsgren offer for mine reclamation?
Before you begin mining in Nevada, you must put up the money to reclaim the project based on your plan. This system works well and has supported positive relationships between operators, regulators and consultants. Forsgren’s reclamation work ranges from GIS work for calculating bonds, to environmental and engineering work for remediation of historic hydraulic mining sites, to construction services for habitat restoration work. A common theme with our reclamation work is water quality.
How does the mining permitting process in Nevada compare to that of other jurisdictions?
Mining companies and regulatory agencies have historically been at odds. These relationships have improved over the years, particularly in Nevada, with both sides cooperating to build trust, improve transparency, and solve problems. I have worked in many other states where this is not the case, and it makes a huge difference in the time and expense companies invest into the permitting process. Nevada has arrived at a great balance between environmental stewardship and the facilitation of businesses like mining.
What are Forsgren’s main priorities for the next few years?
Forsgren will continue applying knowledge of civil infrastructure to the mining industry, particularly relating to water management. Recently, our work has expanded to include more lithium and rare earth metals-related projects.