Leach Pads and Liners

Strachan, Clinton ; van Zyl, Dirk J. A.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 27
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
11.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter outlines some of the selection and design considerations for leach pads and liners. Leach pads and liners are generally chosen to provide the required or desired levels of low permeability and foundation conditions at minimum cost. The selection and design of a particular liner depends upon its anticipated use and performance, and what materials may be available. A leach pad is the firm base for a heap. When geomembrane liners are used, the pad is the firm, compacted foundation upon which the liner is placed. In the case of a clay liner, the clay liner is usually also the pad. It is important to consider the design of a pad or liner in terms of a system. The "leach pad system" consists of the prepared foundation, bedding layer (if used), liner (s), seepage collection or detection layer (if used), and cover layer. Foundation preparation is necessary to ensure a stable base for the rest of the leach pad system. A bedding layer is used to protect a liner from being punctured by large angular fragments in the foundation material. A seepage collection or detection layer, consisting of well-drained material and (sometimes) pipes draining to a collection sump, is included when a double liner is used. A cover layer on top of the liner can serve the following purposes (van Zyl and Strachan, 1986): • Preventing of ultraviolet light exposure to sensitive geomembranes; • Limiting evaporation from compacted clay liners and thereby eliminating cracking of such liners; • More efficient collecting of leachate; and • Protecting the liner from damage during heap construction. Economic evaluations of alternative liners for a project must include the overall system. For example, a geomembrane liner may require different foundation preparation and cover material selection and placement than a clay liner. Liners can be made of compacted clay onsite, amended soil, or geomembranes. Geomembrane is a generic term that has been proposed to replace many terms, including synthetic membranes, polymeric membranes, plastic
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