Impacts of water table level on mine waste management using a saturated cover

Project Overview

A major environmental concern of the mining industry is the management of mine tailings. Mine tailings are the sulfide mineral by-products of ore beneficiation. Exposure of mine tailings to both water and oxygen cause acid-generating reactions to occur and the now-reactive tailings become a source of the effluent commonly known as acid mine drainage (AMD). Saturated covers have been proposed as an alternative technology to managing AMD, compared to commonly used dry and subaqueous covers.

This lab-scale study focuses on the effects of low vs. high water tables within tailings impoundments, in conjunction with a monolayer cover system, in mitigating AMD production. Tailings and cover material were collected from the Faro Mine site in Faro, Yukon.

After conducting an 8-week experiment, preliminary results show that maintaining a high-water table level in conjunction with employing a saturated cover system, result in the lowest concentrations of heavy metals and sulfate in AMD.