Groundwater monitoring during underground coal gasification
Van Dyk, J.C.
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Underground coal gasification (UCG) is a fast-emerging, in situ mining technology that provides access to low-cost energy through the utilization of coal reserves that are currently not technically or economically exploitable by conventional mining methods. Groundwater monitoring for conventional coal mining in South Africa is well established, with SANS, ASTM, and ISO standards for the specific environment, location, and purposes. South Africa's groundwater is a critical resource that provides environmental benefits and contributes to the well-being of the citizens and economic growth. Groundwater supplies the drinking water needs of large portions of the population, and in some rural areas it represents the only source of water for domestic use. Implementation of, and adherence to, groundwater monitoring standards are thus non-negotiable. The groundwater quality management mission, according to the Department of Water and Sanitation in South Africa, is set in the context of the water resources mission and reads as follows: 'To manage groundwater quality in an integrated and sustainable manner within the context of the NationalWater Resource Strategy and thereby to provide anadequate level of protection to groundwater resources and secure the supply of water of acceptable quality.' (SABS, 2016). In this paper we propose fit-for-purpose groundwater monitoring standards for a commercial UCG operation. It is important to proactively prevent or minimize potential impacts on groundwater through long-term protection and monitoring plans