An Integrated Approach to Assess Acid Generation and Metal Release from Sulphide Tailings Using Oxygen Consumption Measurements, Porewater Chemistry and Geochemical Modeling

Nicholson, R. V. ; Rinker, Michael J. ; Tibble, P. A. ; Williams, G. ; Wiseman, M.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Tailings, from an active copper-zinc operation, containing about 10% sulphur were investigated to assess the onset of acid production and potential lime requirements for treatment of drainage. Oxygen consumption rates were measured over two years to verify spatial and seasonal variations in sulphide oxidation rates. Shallow cores were collected to assess the quality of tailings porewater and to characterize solids that had been subjected to oxidation and depletion of neutralization potential (NP) for several years. Oxygen consumption data were used to quantify rates of NP depletion and onset of acid drainage from the near- surface tailings. Based on measured oxygen consumption rates and identification of NP remaining in the tailings, future lime use in the treatment plant was expected to rise significantly without mitigation. Geochemical modeling calculations were calibrated with observed oxygen consumption rates and the model results agreed well with actual lime use in the waste water treatment plant during operations. The modeling also demonstrated the benefits of lower lime demands and treatment costs after closure as a result of construction a soil cover on the acid generating tailings.
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