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Backfilled Pits – Laboratory-scale Tests for Assessing Impacts on Groundwater Quality


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Author A Watson, C Linklater and J Chapman


Closure options under consideration at some sites include backfilling mined-out pits with waste rock. Backfill may include mineralised and non-mineralised waste rock. Following groundwater rebound, flow-through conditions may develop in the pit post-closure. The backfill located in the saturated zone below the water table may release solutes under such conditions. It is therefore important to understand the potential impacts that backfilled pits could have on postclosure groundwater quality.

Geochemical characterisation programs are the foundation for assessing the potential chemistry of water that has contacted mined wastes. Such programs must be designed to obtain data relevant to the closure options under consideration. To complement standard testing techniques, SRK utilises saturated column testing designed to generate data on leaching rates under anoxic conditions that could be encountered within submerged backfill.

This paper presents the findings of saturated column test work carried out on waste rock samples from an iron ore mine in the Pilbara.


Watson, A, Linklater, C and Chapman, J, 2016. Backfilled
pits – laboratory-scale tests for assessing impacts on groundwater quality, in
Proceedings Life-of-Mine 2016 Conference , pp 110–114 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).