Construction of Leach Pads on Steeply Sloping Ground
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Jan 1, 1987
Leach pads of 272,000 tonnes (300,000 st) and 910,000 tonnes (1,000,000 st) with associated operating ponds have recently been constructed on sidehill locations with up to 20 percent slopes. The larger pad was designed in anticipation of ore heights up to 30 meters (100 feet). This paper describes site investigations and civil engineering design as well as construction experience associated with development of these pads. The leach pads were underlain by a double liner system consisting of 2 mm (80- mil) HDPE over compacted fine-grained tailings, with an intermediate leak detection layer. Both sand and geotextile drainage layers were used. Pad slopes were limited by the factor of safety against sliding on the HDPE liner. The sites for the facilities had been substantially disturbed by prior mining and construction activities. Natural conditions included peat layers and locally swampy ground. Site preparation included french drains to lower the water table and stripping of unsuitable subgrade materials.