Unsaturated Flow and Solute Transport Observations in Large Waste Rock Columns

Li, Michael
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Unsaturated flow and solute transport were studied in three large columns measuring 1.5 m diameter x 2 m height, loaded with up to 3.7 t of oxidised waste rock, which was excavated from the Stratmat pile at Heath Steele Division, Noranda Inc. and contained elevated concentrations of zinc in the pore water. The bottom of each column was partitioned into 37 squares, each of which was drained independently. Following rain simulations at the top of the rock bed, the drainage in each drain port was monitored for volume and physicochemical parameters at pre-determined intervals. This paper describes some of the observations resulting from the experiments. The main conclusion of the study is that unsaturated flows in waste rock are heterogeneous, and flow channelling is ubiquitous. The results imply that the transport of solutes from oxidised waste rock to its toe drainage is subject to various controlling mechanisms, including geochemical equilibrium control and successive pore water dilution control.
Full Article Download:
(1163 kb)