Impacts of mining and mine closure on water quality and the nature of the shallow aquifier, Yandi Iron Ore Mine
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The Hamersley Yandi Iron Ore Mine of Hamersley Iron Pty. Ltd. is located in the Pilbara region, Western Australia, approximately 90km north west of the town of Newman. The iron ore has accumulated in a palaeochannel as an enriched Channel Iron Deposit (CID). Mining in other parts of this palaeochannel has been practised since 1991. Named deposits in the province are, from west to east, Munjina, Pool, Meander, Western, Central, Eastern, Junction and the Billiard deposits.Presently the CID acts as an aquifer and transmits water through its fracture system. It is the main conduit for the regional groundwater. The Water and Rivers Commission of Western Australia considers the groundwater in the alluvial beds of the Weeli Wolli Creek overlying the CID to be a useful resource. The groundwater is currently used for stock watering so the quality should be preserved.Part of the four possible closure plans of the Yandi Mine is to backfill the excavated channel with waste rock from the mining operation. The waste material will consist of the uneconomic grade lateritic pisolite iron ore, together with colluvium and alluvium overburden. The closure plans will also leave behind two pit lakes.The impact of these closure plans vary but each plan will leave pit lakes containing water with high salinity and this may adversely affect the quality of the groundwater downstream of the lakes.The hydraulic conductivity of the shallow aquifer may be impaired by swelling clays found in parts of the waste material. This impact would be reduced if the chosen closure plan was one with hydrogeological flow management.The water quality downstream of the pit lakes will change and the environmental impact on the groundwater will depend on which closure plan is chosen. This thesis suggests a number of options for consideration.
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