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Acid Rock Drainage, Metal Leaching & Geochemistry

Managing mine drainage water quality is a critical concern for all mining operations because discharges must typically meet stringent water quality standards set by local, regional and national governments. Acidic drainage remains the most significant issue due to high concentrations of metals, and costs of treatment to achieve acceptable levels. However, in the past decade or so, awareness of leaching under non-acidic conditions has greatly increased.

Accurate prediction of leaching effects and design of practical and proven control measures is often critical to the feasibility of your projects. These issues are encountered during permitting of new mines, optimisation of existing operations, development of closure plans and remediation of abandoned mines.

The cornerstone of our approach is that the release of ARD (acid rock drainage) is controlled by geological conditions. We, therefore, work with your geologists to understand how the geology of your property affects drainage chemistry, and how it can be used to limit potential impacts and engineering costs.

ARD potential is also affected by local climatic conditions. We have experience in the full range of global climates including permafrost in the high arctic, temperate regions, and both wet and dry regions of the tropics.

Our global team of experienced engineers and geoscientists will assist you to develop cost-effective solutions to mine drainage issues ranging from severe acidity to dealing with unusual trace elements. Our experience includes addressing drainage chemistry at all stages of the mining cycle.

Our services include:

  • Evaluation of potential for acid rock drainage
  • Waste characterisation
  • Field assessments and monitoring
  • Waste rock dump and tailings instrumentation for poregas and porewater monitoring
  • Water quality modelling for input into waste management planning and effects assessment
  • Site-wide contaminant load balances
  • Evaluation of waste management measures
  • Water treatment evaluations
  • Cyanide geochemistry and waste treatment`
  • Integration of geochemical characterisation into mine planning
  • Assessment of mine closure requirements
  • Expert witness services

We can offer an integrated approach to water quality management, tailoring the application of our specialist expertise in hydrology/hydrogeology and chemistry/geochemistry to the particular needs of the facility concerned.

Managing water quality requires a catchment- and regional groundwater-based approach. Our team begins by ensuring that we understand the system balance, and the climatic influences on each component before designing and implementing any design.

We are also experienced with managing the potential, and occurrence, of acid drainage through production and closure, and anticipating likely engineering problems.

SRK provides a range of services related to water quality including:

  • Monitoring
  • Water quality investigations (site, drill and test)
  • Mining impacts on ground and surface water
  • Acid rock drainage
  • Contamination load assessment and remediation
  • Modelling
SRK Australia