Reclamation and closure of the AA heap leach pad at Barrick's Goldstrike mine

Myers, K. L. ; Burke, K. ; Espell, R.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2002
Barrick's Goldstrike AA heap leach pad is an HDPE-lined facility that was used for gold recovery from low-grade ores using conventional cyanide heap-leach technology. The pad was operated from 1987 through 1999. Goldstrike prepared a unique reclamation plan for the AA leach pad facility to provide for a cost-effective, environmentally sound facility closure and to fulfill the State of Nevada's closure requirements. The traditional Nevada leach pad closure procedure involves rinsing to reduce the cyanide concentration to an acceptable level followed by reclamation. However, rinsing does not typically reduce certain metals and compounds, and some constituents may increase in concentration with rinsing. A closure scenario to effect limited infiltration through installation of a capillary cover for the leach pad was developed. The capillary cover was constructed by placing a fine-grained layer above the coarse-grained spent leach material to create a capillary break. In an arid climate such as in Nevada, the fine-grained layer will rarely reach saturation, and the cover will be able to store water during precipitation events and will allow removal of water through evaporation and transpiration (ET) during the growing season. A 1.22-m (4 ft) cover thickness was selected as the optimum design cover thickness. The drainage network on the surface of the recontoured AA heap leach pad was specifically designed to enhance the re vegetation, reclamation and sediment yield control aspects of the AA heap leach pad closure, while resulting in a natural looking surface that is compatible with the surrounding topography. Adjacent natural topographic features were used to establish target design parameters for recontouring and erosion-control design.
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