Time Variations of Chemical Species in Released Mine Waters, Northern Territory, Australia
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 1994
Modem open cut and underground mining in the tropics inevitably expose partially weathered and unweathered rocks to oxygen and water, leading to weathering and the release of solutes and often acidity as well. Historical monitoring data can demonstrate these phenomena. Three case studies from open cut mines in the north of the Northern Territory illustrate the deterioration in quality of pond water receiving drainage from waste rock dumps. The potential for deterioration of water quality was not recognised in many mine Environmental Impact Statements prepared and accepted in the 1980s. The examples documented indicate the importance of adequately planning for this near inevitable process. Retrofitting a mine water management system to 'no' or minimal release can be very difficult and expensive, and may not be feasible, leading to downstream pollution. The characterisation of acid and solute production potential of ore and waste rock, and improved dumping strategies and water management are very important to minimise the environmental impact of mining in the tropics.