Close-Out - The Risk of Too Much Water

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1994
At many locations in Australia the decommissioning of mining operations will require the disposal of excess water. If the water is contaminated its disposal may be restricted by government guidelines. The timing of water disposal may be critical to the schedule of close-out. The uncertainty of the annual rainfall input to the water storage and disposal system may determine the success or failure of close-out. The uncertainty associated with any outcome can be used to determine the reliability of the system, or inversely its risk. The technique of Monte Carlo simulation, using the uncertainty in annual rainfall, is applied to quantify the risks associated with water disposal as part of the requirements for close-out in two case studies. In both case studies it is assumed that water disposal is via evaporation only. The first case study is the Nabarlek operation, located about 270 km east of Darwin. This project is required to complete the engineering work associated with its close-out by December 1995. The second study investigates the situation of close-out for the Ranger Uranium Mine, about 250 km east of Darwin. It should be noted that the Ranger mine was examined as part of the annual update of its contingency rehabilitation plan and the probability of implementing the plan is extremely small. The probability of success for the Nabarlek case varied from less than ten per cent to greater than 95 per cent depending on the management strategy. Four possible strategies were investigated for the Ranger mine with the chance of success varying between 20 and 95 per cent. The estimation of the evaporation rate and the area allocated to evaporation was critical in both cases. By applying seasonally based evaporation pan coefficients determined on site, rather than an average monthly value of 0.75, the chance of success was improved by up to 35 per cent for Ranger. Simulation modelling is able to provide information on the likely response of mine water management systems and the level of risk. This information is required to efficiently plan and manage the disposal of water for close-out.
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