Hilton Mine Dewatering-North West Queensland, Australia

Whincup P,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
Hilton deposit comprises en-echelon silver-lead-zinc orebodies with reserves in excess of 50 million tonnes. The host rock to the ore is a dolomitic and pyritic shale/siltstone which dips steeply west. The shale/siltstone is deeply leached and porous, particularly over the Ore Zone where the depth of leaching continues down to 440 m below surface, and constitutes an extensive permeable aquifer system containing a large volume of saline acidic groundwater. Initial production commenced at Hilton in 1987 well below the aquifer. A dedicated dewatering and monitoring programme is in place to ensure security of stoping operations and allow extraction of ore close to the leached zone in future years. Dewatering is undertaken from controlled bores from underground sites. Mine groundwater discharge is presently at the rate of 4000 kl/day with plans to increase to 8000 kl/day. An additional 2000 kl/day of fill and service water and water from secondary aquifers is also pumped from the mine daily. Although recharge rate to the aquifer is minimal, studies indicate that due to the size of the aquifer and future extensions to mine development, dewatering will be a life of mine activity. The investigations which have been undertaken to determine optimum dewatering techniques and schedules are described. These include production bore tests, mine planning constraints and computer aquifer modelling. Gravity geophysical techniques have been successful in delineating the lateral and vertical disposition of the aquifer. The mine dewatering schedule, whose principal component is underground mine drainage, is also outlined.
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