Authors: Bezuidenhout, N; Rousseau, PDS

Paper is not available for download
Contact Us


Cite As:
Bezuidenhout, N & Rousseau, PDS 2008, 'An Investigation into the Depth and Rate of Weathering on Witwatersrand Gold Tailings Dam Surfaces as Key Information for Long-Term Acid Rock Drainage Risk Assessments', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett, I Weiersbye & P Dye (eds), Mine Closure 2008: Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 511-520,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

The generation of acid rock drainage (ARD) from tailings dams of the Witwatersrand gold fields in South Africa is arguably one of the main strategic environmental issues facing the gold mining industry and the South African Government. Fine-grained, sulphidic, tailings impoundments generate ARD through the diffusive ingress of oxygen into unsaturated pore spaces. Research was conducted on behalf of the Water Research Commission of South Africa to determine what the likely rate and depth of oxidation is within typical tailings impoundments of the Witwatersrand gold fields. It was found – through a combination of literature, field work and first order modeling – that the bulk of a typical Witwatersrand tailings facility will only acidify after hundreds to thousands of years. However, acidic drainage may well occur from the wall and toe paddock sections during the operational phase or within a couple of years after decommissioning and closure, and can therefore be effectively mitigated during the operational phase.

Anglo American (1995) A basic course on slimes dams (South African gold paddock dams) for metallurgists. Tailings
unit, Geotechnical section, Civil Engineering Department, Anglo American Corporation of South Africa.
Bezuidenhout, N. and Vermaak, J.J.G. (2001) The effects of “water-on” vs “water-off” water management strategies for
gold tailings dam rehabilitation on long-term seepage quality and quantity, Paper presented at the Chamber of
Mines Conference on Environmental Responsible Mining in Southern Africa.
Blight, G. and du Preez, L. (1996) On the Escape of Salt Pollution from De-commissioned Sulphide Tailings
Impoundments in South Africa, Proceedings of the International Symposium on Seismic and Environmental
Aspects of Dam Designs: Earth, Concrete and Tailings Dams. Santiago Chile, Sociedad Chilena De Geatecria.
David, D.J. and Nicholson, R.V. (1995) Field measurements for determining rates of sulphide oxidation, Sudbury.
Mining and the Environment Conference proceedings.
Davis, G.B. and Ritchie, A.I.M. (1986) A model of oxidation in pyritic mine wastes, 1, Equations and approximate
solution, Appl. Math. Model. 10, pp. 314-322.
Förstner, U. and Wittmann, G.T.W. (1976) Metal accumulation in acidic waters from gold mines in South Africa.
Geoforum, 7, pp. 44-49.
James, A.R. (1997) The prediction of pollution loads from coarse sulphide-containing waste materials. Water Research
Commission Report. 559/1/97.
Lawrence, R. and Day, S. (1997) Short course #2 on Chemical prediction techniques for ARD. 4th International
Conference on Acid Rock Drainage. Vancouver, B.C. Canada.
Mayer, K.U., Blowes, D.W. and Frind, E.O. (2000) Numeric modeling of Acid Mine Drainage generation and
subsequent reactive transport. Proceedings from the 5th International Conference on Acid Rock Drainage,
pp. 135-141.
Millington, R.J. and Shearer, R.C. (1971) Diffusion in aggregated porous media. Soil Science, 111, pp. 372-378.
Nicholson, R.V., Elberling, B. and Williams, G. (1995) A new oxygen consumption technique to provide rapid
assessment of tailings material in the field and laboratory. Sudbury. Mining and the Environment Conference
proceedings, 3, pp. 999-1006.
Perkins, E.H., Nesbitt H.W., Gunter W.D., St-Arnaud, L.C. and Mycroft, J.R. (1995) Critical review of geochemical
processes and geochemical models adaptable for prediction of acidic drainage from waste rock. MEND Project
Pugh, C.E., Hossner, L.R. and Dixon, J.B. (1984) Oxidation rate of iron sulfides as affected by surface area,
morphology, oxygen concentration, and autotrophic bacteria. Soil Sci.137, pp. 309-314.
Pulles, Howard and de Lange (PHD) (2002) Geochemical assessment of the pollution potential of waste deposits. Report
prepared for AngloGold.
Rösner, T., Boer, R., Reyneke, R., Aucamp, P. and Vermaak, J. (2001) A preliminary assessment of pollution contained
in the unsaturated and saturated zone beneath reclaimed gold – mine residue deposits. WRC report No. 797/1/01.
Sobek, A.A., Schuller, W.A., Freeman, J.R. and Smith, R.M. (1978) Field and laboratory methods applicable to
overburdens and mine soils, EPA-600/2-78-054, USEPA, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Steffen, Robertson and Kirsten (SRK) (1988) Research contribution of mine dumps to the mineral pollution load in the
Vaal barrage Water Research Commission (Rep. No. PT 3632/10).
Troeh, F.R., Jabro, J.D. and Kirkham, D. (1982) Gaseous diffusion equations of porous materials, Geoderma, 27,
pp. 239-253.
Usher, B., Cruywagen, L.M., de Necker, E. and Hodgson, F.D.I. (2001) On-site and laboratory investigations of spoil in
opencast collieries and the development of Acid-Base Accounting procedures, Water Research Commission
Wunderly, M.D., Blowes, D.W., Frind, E.O. and Ptacek, C.J. (1996) Sulfide mineral oxidation and subsequent reactive
transport of oxidation products in mine tailings impoundments: A numerical model, Water Resources Research,
32, No 10, pp. 3173-3187.
Yanful, E.K. (1991) Conference proceedings, Second International Conference on the abatement of Acidic Drainage
Montréal, 1, pp. 461-487.

© Copyright 2024, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to