Mine Water and the Environment

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 302–313 | Cite as

Mine Closure of Pit Lakes as Terminal Sinks: Best Available Practice When Options are Limited?

  • Clint D. McCullough
  • Geneviève Marchand
  • Jörg Unseld
Technical Article


In an arid climate, pit lake evaporation rates can exceed influx rates, causing the lake to function as a hydraulic terminal sink, with water levels in the pit remaining below surrounding groundwater levels. We present case studies from Western Australia for two mines nearing closure. At the first site, modelling indicates that waste dump covers for the potentially acid forming (PAF) material would not be successful over the long term (1,000 years or more). The second site is a case study where PAF management is limited by the current waste rock dump location and suitable cover materials. Pit lake water balance modelling using Goldsim software indicated that both pit lakes would function as hydraulic terminal sinks if not backfilled above long-term equilibrium water levels. Poor water quality will likely develop as evapoconcentration increases contaminant concentrations, providing a potential threat to local wildlife. Even so, the best current opportunity to limit the risk of contaminant migration and protect regional groundwater environments may be to limit backfill and intentionally produce a terminal sink pit lake.


AMD Backfill Closure Evaporative Groundwater sink Through-flow 

Tagebauseen als endgültige Senke für Bergbauwässer nach Bergbauschließung: Die bestmögliche Praxis unter begrenzten Alternativen?


In aridem Klima ist die Evaporation von Tagebauseen oft höher als die Zuflüsse. In solchen Fällen wirkt der See als endgültige hydraulische Senke, indem der Wasserstand im Tagebau dauerhaft unter dem umgebenden Grundwasserspiegel bleibt. Wir beschreiben zwei Beispiele von Minen in Westaustralien, welche bald geschlossen werden. Im ersten Fall lassen Modelle vermuten, daß die Abdeckung von möglicherweise säurebildenden Halden keine ausreichende Langzeitstabilität (minimal 1000 Jahre) ergäbe. An der zweiten Lokalität ist die Sicherung der möglicherweise säurebildenden Berge durch eine ungünstige Lage der Halde und geeigneten Abdeckmaterials eingeschränkt. Die Modellierung des Wasserhaushaltes der Tagebauseen mit dem Goldsim Programm indiziert, daß beide Seen als endgültige hydraulische Senken fungieren können, wenn die Füllung mit Bergen unter dem Wasserstand langfristiger Gleichgewichtsbedingungen bleibt. Die Wasserqualität wird allerdings durch Evapokonzentration abnehmen, mit möglichen Gefahren für die lokale Tierwelt. Trotzdem ist zur Zeit die Begrenzung der Wiederverfüllung und die bewußte Herstellung eines terminalen Restsees die beste Möglichkeit, das Risiko eines Schadstoffaustrages zu begrenzen und das regionale Grundwasser zu schützen.

Cierre de minas con lagos de pozos como terminales hidráulicos: La práctica más adecuada cuando las opciones están limitadas?


En un clima árido, las velocidades de evaporación del lago del pozo de la mina pueden superar las velocidades de entrada de agua, causando que el lago funcione como el sector terminal del flujo hidráulico con sus niveles de agua por debajo de los niveles del agua subterránea de los alrededores. Presentamos el estudio de casos en el oeste de Australia para dos minas cercanas al cierre. Para el primer caso, los modelos indican que la cobertura del material de las colas mineras para evitar la posible formación de ácido (PAF) no sería exitosa en el largo plazo (1000 años o más). En el segundo caso, el manejo del PAF está limitado por la actual localización de las colas y los materiales adecuados para su cobertura. El balance de agua modelado usando el software Goldsim indicó que ambos lagos de pozos de minas actuarían como terminales hidráulicos si no se rellena por encima de los niveles de equilibrio de largo plazo del agua. La evaporación incrementa las concentraciones de los contaminantes siendo la pobre calidad del agua una potencial amenaza para la vida silvestre local. Aún así, la mejor oportunidad que se posee actualmente para limitar el riesgo de migración de contaminantes y proteger el agua subterránea circundante puede ser limitar el relleno e intencionalmente producir un lago en el pozo que sea el terminal hídrico.

坑后的坑湖作水文循点: 无的最佳?





We thank government and industry colleagues for valuable discussion, Hugh Jones (Golder), Xuan Nguyen (DMP), and anonymous reviewers for constructive advice, and the project parent companies, Aditya Birla and Mt Gibson Iron Ore, for permission to present these studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clint D. McCullough
    • 1
    • 2
  • Geneviève Marchand
    • 1
  • Jörg Unseld
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Golder Associates Pty LtdWest PerthAustralia
  2. 2.Mine Water and Environment Research Centre (MiWER)Edith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  3. 3.FMGPerthAustralia

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