Chapman, PJ, Williams, DJ, Rohde, TK & Ennor, SJ 2008, 'Understanding the Water Balance of Potentially Acid Forming Tailings Deposited in a Dry Climate', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett, I Weiersbye & P Dye (eds), Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 499-509.
The conventional deposition of mine tailings as a slurry results in seepage, with the potential to contaminate
surface and ground waters, particularly during deposition, and possibly post-closure. In a dry climate,
tailings deposition can be cycled to largely evaporate excess water, and on closure the tailings may remain
desiccated to the extent that incidental rainfall will not cause seepage to the environment. The purpose of
any cover would then be to limit dust, promote some vegetation and improve aesthetics, rather than to shed
rainfall runoff, which would result in a poor vegetative cover and erosion. To test this hypothesis, a trial
tailings cell at a mine in arid Western Australia has been instrumented with moisture and suction sensors
located on towers placed prior to tailings deposition. Tailings were deposited over a number of months in a
series of lifts to a maximum height of about 4 m, with desiccation allowed between lifts. The deposit was then
left for a period of four months without tailings deposition, during which time the effects of prevailing
climatic conditions were monitored. The paper describes the instrumentation and its installation, and the life
cycle of tailings deposition and desiccation, and presents the moisture and suction data collected during the
deposition and desiccation phases.
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), viewed 20 June 2008,
Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), viewed 20 June 2008, <
Wilson, G.W., Newman, L.L., Barbour, S.L., O’Kane, M.A., and Swanson, D.A. (1997) Show Case Paper, The Cover
Research Program at Equity Silver Mine Ltd, Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Acid Rock
Drainage, Vancouver, Canada - June 6, Vol. I, pp. 197-210.