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Mining risk assessment at the territory scale: development of a tool tested on the example of gold mining in French Guiana

Abstract : Mining can be the source and target of opportunities and threats of different natures exceeding the mine-site perimeter, affecting the socio-ecological system where mining is performed and leading to social tensions and entrepreneurial risks for mining companies. Hence, a mining project is a matter of land-planning rather than a simple industrial object. Nevertheless, current mandatory risk and impact assessment methods are often performed on one project at a time, sometimes neglecting the cumulative dimension of risks, the great variability of coexistent mining activities, and the socio-ecological vulnerability in which mining is performed. This thesis proposes an approach to develop and compare, based on the assessment of their risk, different potential scenarios for land-planning strategies in mining territories. This approach is operationalized through the development of a framework via its application on French Guiana gold mining sector. Here, gold mining involves a great variety of forms and techniques in a very sensitive socio-ecological context. Five territorial mining scenarios (TMS) involving different mine-types (e.g. legal artisanal, medium, large scale mining, illegal mining) are developed for the same amount of gold production. For each TMS, two types of risk scenarios are distinguished whether they concern the normal or accidental (e.g. dam failure) functioning of the mining project(s). Risks are assessed through a GIS-based approach that consider the socio-ecological vulnerability of the territory where the mines are located. The TMS are finally weighted, discussed and compared based on a global risk score. Despite the reliability of its results, this thesis provides an original and adaptable approach for the rapid comparison of mining strategies at the territory level, based on risk assessment. Further developments need to be achieved in order to optimize and improve the proposed approach and its application to the selected case-study (e.g. integration of the uncertainty analysis, better probabilistic models, data availability, GIS-automated tools).
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Contributor : Ottone Scammacca <>
Submitted on : Thursday, June 3, 2021 - 8:49:04 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 10:02:10 AM


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  • HAL Id : tel-03225840, version 2


Ottone Scammacca. Mining risk assessment at the territory scale: development of a tool tested on the example of gold mining in French Guiana. Ecosystems. Université de Lorraine, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020LORR0281⟩. ⟨tel-03225840v2⟩



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