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Minerals 2017, 7(7), 128;

Sustainable Reuse of Mine Tailings and Waste Rock as Water-Balance Covers

Civil & Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 June 2017 / Revised: 7 July 2017 / Accepted: 18 July 2017 / Published: 24 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Minerals in Mine Wastes: Contributions to the Circular Economy)
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The focus of this study was to evaluate the potential reuse of mixed mine tailings and waste rock in water-balance covers (WBCs). Reuse of mine waste in geoengineering applications can provide an economic advantage via offsetting raw material requirements and reducing waste volumes to manage. Water-balance covers are designed to minimize percolation and/or oxygen ingress into underlying waste via moisture retention while also providing resistance against slope failure and erosion of cover materials. Water-balance simulations were conducted using a variably-saturated one-dimensional numerical model to assess hydrologic behavior of an actual WBC as well as hypothetical mixed mine waste WBCs. The actual water balance cover included a 1.22-m-thick silty-sand storage layer and a 0.15-m-thick topsoil layer. Three scenarios were evaluated via hydrologic modeling that focused on replacing the actual storage layer with a layer of mine waste: (1) storage layers were simulated as 1.22-m-thick layers of pure mine tailings (i.e., copper, gold, coal, and oil sand tailings); (2) storage layers were simulated as 1.22-m-thick layers of mixed mine tailings and waste rock; and (3) mixed mine tailings and waste rock storage layer thicknesses were redesigned to yield comparable percolation rates as the actual cover. View Full-Text
Keywords: covers; hydrology; sustainability; tailings; waste rock covers; hydrology; sustainability; tailings; waste rock

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Gorakhki, M.H.; Bareither, C.A. Sustainable Reuse of Mine Tailings and Waste Rock as Water-Balance Covers. Minerals 2017, 7, 128.

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