Case Study

Mine Trace Elements Study (US)

SLR was retained by the Client in 2005 to develop, implement, and direct a trace elements study in the Alaskan tundra to evaluate baseline conditions in soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater, seeps, fish tissue and various species and growth forms of native plants. The work was designed to meet expectations for permit application and approval under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) for a potential trace elements mine.




Confidential Client


Mining & Minerals

Project Objectives:

Completed an extensive characterization of the study area and ensure that baseline data collection would meet risk assessment data quality objectives.

Our Role

SLR undertook the following works:

  • More than 1000 soil, sediment, and plant samples were collected by SLR from a 965-mile square study area. Target analytes included metals, anions and cations, as well as biogenic hydrocarbons in the petroleum range. Rigorous statistical evaluation was conducted on the data, including correlation analyses, box-and-whisker plots, group- and pair-wise nonparametric tests to identify significant differences in baseline concentrations as a function of species, location, sample period, surficial geology, habitat, and pond type (i.e., surface water fed, groundwater fed, beaver impacted).
  • One primary goal of this work was to provide an integration of trace element data across all media to identify trends and statistical significance of naturally occurring constituents to assist in determining long-term monitoring needs, locations, and sampling frequency. SLR also ensured that baseline data collection would meet risk assessment data quality objectives in any future evaluation of potential impacts to humans or ecological organisms.
  • As part of this project, SLR was asked to evaluate the surface water data compiled over a five-year period, encompassing three watersheds and over 150,000 data points. Periodically, SLR provides update presentations on trace elements and surface water quality at the regulatory agency.