Pit lakes, as a final void after completing open cut mining, are in most cases unavoidable. Initial mine designs and approvals require consideration and assessment of closure objectives, legislation and stakeholder acceptance to ensure suitable understanding of the closure liability. Mining companies undertake studies and engineering during the planning, operational and closure stages of mining to identify closure options for the final voids, which would be sustainable. Without adequate planning prior to and during the life of the mine, options during the closure stage become limited resulting in costly closure works or long-term liabilities.
Engineering consultants provide a specialist service in the assessment of long-term pit lake water levels and characteristics. Ongoing advances in mining methodology and technology, coupled with improved data collection and data management aid in a better understanding of the complexities in estimating long-term pit lake water levels and characteristics. Closure objectives developed during the planning stage sets the requirements for long-term pit lake water levels, which could require maintaining a water level and pit water or discharge water quality. A variety of approaches could be used to assess these closure scenarios each requiring specific data and methodologies. Typically, limited data is available during the planning stage, which results in assumptions based on past experience and relevant case studies. Closure assessments are revisited during the life of mine and leading up to the closure stage, during which additional site-specific data is available improving the accuracy of the assessments.
Boshoff, H J J, 2018. Assessment of approaches, data requirements and methodologies for estimating long-term pit lake water levels, in Proceedings Life-of-Mine 2018, pp 28–31 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).