Approaches to Estimating the Erosional Stability of the Nabarlek Tailings Pit Cover
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 1994
The cover (cap) over the tailings pit at Nabarlek uranium mine must be structurally stable as it will act as a barrier to radon gas emission and have to contain other long-lived radionuclides. Structural stability is primarily an issue of erosional stability in the context of a design life of thousands of years. The primary agent of erosion is fluvial, dominated by rainwash, overland flow, filling and gullying in the local area. Other agents of erosion are of less concern although biogenic agents of erosion (eg termites and windthrow) may enhance fluvial activity. Several methods may be used to assess erosional stability. They fall into two main categories, namely erosion modelling and geomorphic modelling. The former is illustrated by the Universal Soil Loss Equation in which parameters describing aspects of the geotechnical and hydrological properties of the rehabilitated surface are used as input for the modelling of erosion rates. The latter is illustrated by estimates of gully and valley erosion using empirical models. Estimates of the erosion rates and stability of the Nabarlek cover are presented. The two main techniques are complementary and it is argued that rehabilitation design must make use of both approaches when estimating erosion and geomorphic stability. More recent developments in geomorphic modelling using numerical techniques incorporate both approaches.