Williams, L, Williams, J, Evans, K & Leclerc, D 2022, 'An innovative approach to bauxite residue site remediation: a case study reviewing the dewatering, reprofiling and revegetation of a closed bauxite residue site in Jamaica', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & G Boggs (eds), Mine Closure 2022: 15th International Conference on Mine Closure
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 557-574, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_repo/2215_39
Following the divestment of its alumina refineries in Jamaica, Rio Tinto agreed to close and revegetate some closed bauxite residue storage sites prior to returning the land ownership to the Government of Jamaica. The most challenging area to be restored was a dammed valley which contained approximately 2 million m3 of high pH water (pH 12) over a 60 m deep deposit of bauxite residue tailings from the nearby Ewarton alumina refinery. The site was approximately 40 ha in size and located in an area with no mains power and subject to severe cyclonic rainfall events.
This paper describes the option analysis review, the trials undertaken and work at Kirkvine, the water treatment approach and disposal, reprofiling to allow suitable drainage, and the revegetation stages. The hilly nature of the terrain meant that there was no readily available topsoil to use as a covering over bauxite residue for revegetation. Instead, the high pH, highly sodic bauxite residue material was converted into a material that provided a sustainable plant growth medium. The soil conditioning to achieve a suitable medium was especially challenging. The project started in 2006 and the revegetation phase started in 2016. The paper describes in detail the current status of the vegetative species that are now growing and also reviews the diversity of fauna that have already colonised the site.
A major aspect of the work was close cooperation at all stages with the key regulators in Jamaica, especially the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, and the local community.
Keywords: bauxite residue, red mud, dewatering, remediation, closure, Jamaica
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