Theme 2 - Predictive Tools for Mine-Waste Management

Theme goal: The prediction of acid generation, metal leaching, and metal attenuation processes in mine waste and the ability to provide reliable forecasts of future drainage water quality and mass loadings are paramount for mine closure planning. Predictive tools are needed to assess long-term environmental impacts and water treatment requirements. Although significant research efforts have been dedicated to the development of reliable and efficient experimental procedures for characterizing mine waste and predicting its leaching behaviour, there is still a need for additional research, particularly to develop a rigorous approach for quantifying acid neutralization processes. Similarly, modelling tools have been developed to simulate metal release from mine waste; however, comprehensive computer codes are still lacking, in particular for waste rock.

Anticipated Outcomes: Research conducted in this theme will lead to the development of new, robust, and efficient experimental methods and numerical models to predict leaching behaviour of mine waste, including tailings and waste rock and its long-term evolution. New experimental methods will provide greater confidence in forecasts of metal release by accounting for the specific release mechanisms, based on the physical characteristics, mineralogical, and geochemical composition of the mine wastes. Numerical models will provide a tool to predict leaching behaviour, in deterministic or stochastic modes, and to estimate metal release rates from individual minerals in an inverse mode. Together, these tools will limit the uncertainty currently associated with predictions and will lead to cost savings for mine-closure planning.