Rum Jungle Mine Site Remediation: Relationship Between Changing Water Quality Parameters and Ecological Recovery in the Finniss River System

Jeffree, Ross A. ; Twining, John R. ; Lawton, Michael D.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
The Finniss River system in tropical northern Australia has received 'acid-drainage' contaminants from the Rum Jungle uranium/copper mine site over the past 4 decades. Following mine-site remediation that began in 1981-82 the annual contaminant loads of sulfate, Cu, Zn and Mn have declined by factors of 3, 7, 5 and 4, respectively over 1990-93, compared to the 1969-74 pre-remediation loads. Comparison of the frequency distributions of contaminant water concentrations over these pre- and post-remedial periods have shown varying degrees of reduction in the highest levels following mine-site remediation, that are consistent with reductions in their annual-cycle loads. Among the three selected major metal contaminants the reductions in maximum water concentrations are most pronounced for Cu. The demonstrated reductions in the highest water concentrations of all four contaminants are also associated with previously reported ecological improvement in the Finniss River system, compared to the benchmark of environmental detriment established in 1973fl4, prior to the beginning of remediation at the mine site.
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