Backfilling Waste Material Composites Environmental Impact Assessment

Kortnik, J.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2003
Mining has always been, and still is, an activity which is vital for the development of mankind. This is because a predominant proportion of industrial products and energy is produced from raw materials that are excavated using mining methods. The need for environmental protection and the close proximity of urban settlements and mines in Slovenia have necessitated ever stricter requirements for the excavation of raw materials and the introduction of more environmentally-friendly mining methods. This is achieved by implementing a closed eco-technological cycle of raw material excavation within the scope of mining methods. In surface mines, this means prompt reclamation of the degraded surfaces, and in underground mines the use of methods with minimized impact on the surface and on underground water. In underground mines, mining methods with backfilling installed according to the multi-barrier disposal system are the only ones that allow the possibility of implementing a closed eco-techno-logical cycle of excavating raw materials. Various industrial waste materials are also included in the backfilling material in order to improve its strength properties. Backfilling consisting of several different waste materials is produced in the form of a composite. Before backfilling consisting of waste material composites can even begin to be used in mines, an environmental impact assessment of its suitability for mines needs to be made. In order to make such an assessment, a pressure leaching cell and an open diffusion cell were made, i.e. a pressure leachate test and a sorption test were developed. The two cells and the developed tests will enable the study of the influence of backfilling on the environment if installed in an underground mine. The pressure leachate test performed with the use of the pressure leaching cell simulates leaching from a consolidated backfill during the seeping of underground water into the backfilling material under pressure. The sorption test performed in an open diffusion cell simulates the flow of eluate leached from the backfilling material through the rock/geotechnical barrier. The two tests were developed in such a manner that they are performed either in succession immediately after one another, but they can also be performed separately at a certain time interval. The paper presents an assessment of the suitability of backfilling made of different waste material composites. Keywords: environmental impact assessment, multi-barrier disposal system, waste material composites, pressure leachate test, sorption test, pressure leaching cell, open diffusion cell, eco-technological cycle, mining methods with backfilling.
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