Continuous Monitoring Techniques for Environmental Control of Waste Water Discharge at Northern Territory Mine Sites

Woods P H, ; Mine F J,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 0
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1994
The Top End of the Northern Territory lies in the monsoonal zone and receives rain during the November-April period. Initially, at the start of the wet season, rain storms are localised, but, following the descent of the monsoonal trough from below the equator, widespread rain occurs. Overflow incidents at mine sites tend to arise midway through the annual wet season when excess water accumulated in ponds begins to discharge to the external environment. Remote-access monitoring may be undertaken at mine sites using equipment to continuously measure water quality parameters with storage of the information on a data logger. The data is then retrieved by visiting the site and transferring it to a portable computer or by remotely accessing the system using a telemetry system and transmission via telephone, VHF/UHF or satellite. Such systems are readily available and vary in cost depending on the sophistication of the data transfer system. Available sensors for continuous monitoring include those for conductivity, temperature, pH and other ion selective electrodes, eg nitrate, and water level. Of these variables, conductivity is most useful due to its inherent accuracy and stability of reading. Remote monitoring capability is able to provide: (i) more intensive monitoring of key issues; (ii) more timely information; (iii) correct perspective on the degree of environmental problem; and (iv) information from remote locations, which would be difficult to monitor by more conventional methods. Examples are given for applications of continuously logged measurement of conductivity of waters discharging to drains and in creeks at Pine Creek, Ranger, Nabarlek and Woodcutters mines in the Northern Territory. These applications demonstrate the timeliness of the continuous monitoring technique.
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