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Postgrad Scholarships  [February 10, 2017]

Location: Tasmania, Australia

Scaling geochemical loads in mine drainage chemistry from laboratory to field: Savage River Mine, Tasmania

The occurrence of water-rock interactions in sulfidic waste rock storage facilities can result in the release of acidity and metals, a significant environmental concern for mine operators. To predict water quality, a range of laboratory-based geochemical tests are conducted ranging from short-term static tests (e.g., < 48 hours) to longer-term kinetic tests (e.g., > 6 months). Whilst these tests provide an insight into the lag-time to acid rock drainage (ARD) onset, metal leaching and the mineralogical reactions occurring, the challenge is their extrapolation to predict drainage chemistry from a real waste rock pile. Whilst some bulk-scaling factors have been proposed (e.g., Morin & Hutt, 1994, Andrina et al., 2012; Hanna & Lapakko, 2012) they commonly overestimate field geochemical loads. Considering this, research will focus on undertaking kinetic and field-cell tests to determine bulk scale-up factors, using waste rock from the Savage River mine, Tasmania. This research will involve: mineralogical and geochemical characterisation of the different waste rock types; static testwork; engineering of laboratory and field kinetic cells; routine leachate chemistry and mineralogy assessments; mathematical modelling of fluid flow through kinetic cells, field trials and existing waste rock piles; and geochemical modelling of mineralogical reactions occurring at each scale.

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