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Project 3.10

Improved prediction, remediation and closure of AMD/NMD sites by examination of mine waste behaviour at the meso-scale

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Full and top up PhD scholarships – closing 8 Sep 2022

Research Program

Operational Solutions

Project Leader

Professor Sarah Harmer

Project ID

3.10

Summary

Acid mine drainage (AMD) management and remediation occurs at a significant cost and plays a role in inhibiting mine closure. Forecasting and appropriate control of AMD is a common issue for mine sites with climate, geochemistry and microbiology all playing key roles. Incorrect forecasting may result in:

1. Inadequate controls and strategies being put in place leading to downstream contamination of water ways, ecosystem and/or human health impacts and constraints on future site repurposing;

2. Inaccurate geochemical risk assessments (non-acid forming, NAF, waste rock and tailings being wrongly classified as potentially acid forming, PAF) resulting in inefficient utilisation of resources through expenditures that are not warranted;

3. Use of on-site remediation resources not being recognised; and

4. Lack of recognition of opportunities to understand and control beneficial microbial action.

This project aims to provide links between prediction, scale up and residual risk. There are potential improvements, utilising both mineralogy and microbiology, for assessment and remediation of the undersaturated mine waste zone through examination of the behaviour of mine wastes at a range of scales. The project aims to bridge the gap between lab-scale methodologies and mine-site implementation through emphasis on meso-scale testing of AMD/NMD behaviours of mine waste at >1 t. By developing understanding and use of microbial activity for AMD control,  improved acid-base testing procedures for AMD/NMD waste disposal planning, and accurate identification and quantification of sources of neutralisation, end-user environments that are fit for purpose may be achieved.

Project Partners

Flinders University; Newmont Mining Services; MMG Australia Limited; Rio Tinto Services Limited; Fortescue Metals Group Ltd; BHP Group Operations Pty Ltd; Teck Resources Limited; Genome Research Facility Limited; Okane; Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia; Department for Energy and Mining, South Australian Government; Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment; Mineral Resources Tasmania; The University of Queensland; University of Windsor, Blue Minerals Consultancy

Duration

60 months