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Edith Cowan University (2007)

Alternative rehabilitation techniques and sustainable outcomes from mining using appropriate environmental management and mine closure planning in an arid region of Western Australia

Hewitt Mark S.

Titre : Alternative rehabilitation techniques and sustainable outcomes from mining using appropriate environmental management and mine closure planning in an arid region of Western Australia

Auteur : Hewitt Mark S.

Université de soutenance : Edith Cowan University

Grade : Master of Science (Environmental Management) 2007

Résumé partiel
The subject of this thesis is the development of alternative approaches to environmental management and mine closure plans using case examples of the Big Bell/Cue Mining District and as a working example, an area of unconfined washout of historical gold-mine process tailings located in this arid inland region of Western Australia. This is considered appropriate in the light of the social and political thrust for industry to develop simultaneously positive economic, social and environmental outcomes from their activities. The Big Bell mining operation ceased mining in June 2003 and the Mine Closure Plan reflected a classical approach of minimization of public liability and strict compliance with legislative requirements. During the life of the modern mine the approach to rehabilitation was similarly classical in its approach It is intended for this document to inform the mining industry using the case example of the now closed Big Bell Mine as to how greater long-term outcomes may have been achieved for the State and the region for the future. This thesis specifically investigates alternative ways to approach rehabilitation in arid areas of Western Australia using the washout area as an example and trial area. This thesis has approached the issue by addressing the quantification of what has occurred through the gathering of baseline data of the case study area and then by the implementation of a series of relevant trials to identify appropriate eco-functional process-sensitive methods for rehabilitation as an alternative to current industry practice. Trials investigating the use of "retention banks" and "clay/seed balls" and the use of ex-mine milling waste carbon were conducted to investigate relevant possible techniques suitable for arid mine-site waste dump rehabilitation. Data analysis indicated that the main reason for the high level of degradation within the case study area is due to the smothering effect of the fine clayey tails cover and due to acidity of the tailings. A detailed examination of 92 soil samples found water infiltration of tails-washed areas as half that of control areas. Acidity of alluvium has declined from pH 5.2 to 3.8. The acidity has penetrated at depth to hardpan. Trials were commenced to rehabilitate the area using a combination of earthworks (retention banks and· scarification), pH- adjustment (using ex-mill carbon and crushed lime), and the use of native seed pelletised into clay-balls. The introduction of ex-mill carbon was shown to be effective in ameliorating pH in the tails wash area and improving its capacity to regenerate.

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Page publiée le 16 janvier 2015, mise à jour le 11 août 2018