Management of solid mine wastes, particularly waste rock, requires careful planning to reduce the likelihood of sulfide oxidation, and generation of acid rock drainage (ARD). Waste management strategies must focus on obtaining a thorough understanding of the environmental characteristics of future waste rock materials. In this study, a waste management strategy for characterising underground waste rock was developed at a polymetallic underground mine in western Tasmania to determine which materials were appropriate for surficial placement. The criteria for surficial placement set by the regulator were that materials had to be non-acid forming and non-metalliferous. A range of cost-effective field-based tools, mineralogical assessments and mineral chemistry techniques were used on a suite of representative drill core material to determine an appropriate waste management strategy. Ultimately, a modified geochemistry–mineralogy–texture–geometallurgy (GMTG) approach was designed, whereby geoenvironmental focused logging and simple prescreening tools such as paste pH and sulfur analyses were used at stage-one; routine acid base accounting and leachate tests at stage-two; and validation tools including X-ray diffractometry and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICPMS) at stage-three. This approach should be considered for other mine sites at early and operational life-of-mine stages with similar deposit characteristics, to ensure correct screening and placement of potentially hazardous waste materials in suitable above-ground waste repositories or mined-out mine sections.
Parbhakar-Fox, A and Lottermoser, B G, 2017. Effectively linking mining geology with waste management – a case study from western Tasmania, in Proceedings Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 117–126 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).