Covers on waste rock and tailings remain the primary choice for closure planning where the purpose is to create an environment where water ingress into reactive material can be controlled and/or prevented. In semi-arid and arid environments, dry cover systems are the preferred option with the design intention to absorb rainfall and to prevent deep drainage. Although the average amount of rain typical for semi-arid environments is relatively low and evaporative demand is high, the seasonal and annual distribution may vary greatly. Rocky substrates are often the only choice for the construction of covers due to economic constraints or availability of suitable materials. While the water holding capacity may be suitable for the application of a dry cover design in arid and semi-arid climates, some of these covers bear the risk of preferential water flow when rain events are intensive or occurring at high frequency.
The objective of this presentation is to demonstrate the occurrence of preferential flow through rock containing dry cover systems. A regional classification for the applicability of dry covers is attempted to delineate those regions of Australia where the characteristic of the rainfall pattern increases the risk of failure for dry cover designs.
Baumgartl, T and Richards, B, 2016. Rainfall patterns rather than climate classification control cover design for closure, in Proceedings Life-of-Mine 2016 Conference, pp 89–92 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).