Mines: Litigation Support and Environmental Liability Valuation
Geosyntec has provided numerous other services related to the planning, development, operation, closure, and conversion of mine sites. A brief description of some of these more notable services is presented in the following paragraphs.
Litigation Support for Mines
Geosyntec has provided technical support to high-profile client attorneys with significant liabilities associated with metals contamination associated with mine site development. For example, we have supported clients to: i) evaluate the feasibility of metals natural attenuation; ii) identify precedents for the use of Monitored Natural Attenuation of metals in groundwater and surface water; iii) provide evaluation and technical justification for cases where metals detected above the MCL may be naturally-occurring and not associated with site operations; iv) evaluate and/or provide geochemical sampling programs to assess the fate, transport, and in some cases the source of metals in ground- water and surface water; v) evaluate potentially applicable groundwater remedies based on nationwide databases of sites with groundwater metals concerns; and, vi) identify background levels of metals in soil and groundwater.
Our technical support activities for attorneys and clients often include technical evaluations, advice and recommendations to counsel, expert opinion reporting, and testimony at deposition and trial. Based on extensive experience with litigation support projects, Geosyntec understands and follows procedures to maintain privileged and confidential communications. Our ability to communicate complex technical concepts to lay audiences is key to our litigation support capability.
For example, Geosyntec is providing litigation and expert witness support to a mining company that had short-term interests in three mine sites in Idaho. The federal government has filed a claim under CERCLA asserting that the mining company was an owner and operator of the mine sites, it discharged hazardous wastes and that the discharges resulted in the need to implement removal actions and for the government to incur Response costs. Geosyntec was retained to assemble the facts for each mine site in the context of the federal government's claim and render an opinion. On the basis of Geosyntec's opinion, settlement discussions were initiated and many aspects of the federal government's claim were rendered invalid at the early stages of the settlement discussion. It is likely that the final settlement will amount to less than 25 percent of the initial claim amount.
Environmental Liability Valuation for Mines
In the context of evolving regulation and regulatory scrutiny, Geosyntec's mining industry clients face billions of dollars in environmental costs and liability associated with both ongoing and legacy operations. The effective identification, quantification, and management of these liabilities are integral to our clients' business decisions related to their mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures; insurance transactions; financial reporting; and overall portfolio management.
Building upon Geosyntec's expertise in the environmental remediation, geotechnical, compliance and permitting, water resources, and other engineering aspects of mining operations, our Environmental Liability Valuation (ELV) practice focuses on providing technically-sound and defensible valuation of environmental risk. We have evaluated individual mining sites with estimated environmental liabilities in the hundreds of millions of dollars and large client property portfolios consisting of thousands of sites and with total alleged or potential environmental liabilities in the billions of dollars. Geosyntec's environmental liability valuation professionals develop and apply customized sophisticated deterministic or stochastic costing tools to prepare estimates consistent with applicable costing standards, such as ASTM 2137- 06(2011). We also help clients to value environmental assets such as alternative energy project opportunities and carbon emission reduction credits.
Our experience in environmental liability valuation was acknowledged by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funded Geosyntec to conduct cutting-edge research to develop a numerical modeling tools for quantifying the value of liabilities associated with a portfolio of environmentally impaired properties using "Real Options Valuation" analysis, a sophisticated financial technique commonly used to estimate the value of futures and derivatives, but in this case allows for appropriate treatment of uncertainty in valuing assets (e.g., property value) and liabilities (e.g., potential remediation cost). Geosyntec environmental liability valuation practitioners have used these and other costing techniques to support a wide variety of client business decisions, including to achieve negotiated settlements of billions of dollars' worth of historic insurance assets, support large property transactions, and advocate for minimizing clients overall shares of future remediation or claim costs.