School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering

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Edward Buller

Phone: (+61 4) 3897 7422

Start date

Mar 2012

Submission date

Mar 2014

Edward Buller

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Net solute response to the installation of infiltration limiting dry cover systems over acid forming waste rock piles


Store-and-release (SAR) covers are often installed over sulfidic mine waste to limit the generation and transport of acidic and metalliferous drainage (AMD) by reducing water percolation to these wastes. These covers are typically 2-3m thick and function by storing a significant volume of water from rainfall events and effectively release this stored pore water in the interim period through evapotranspiration.

SAR covers act to reduce both the net volume and frequency of percolation events by buffering the underlying waste from smaller rainfall events that would have otherwise penetrated to the waste, and enhancing evapo-transpiration of stored pore-water. While water content has been shown to significantly impact the rate of sulfide oxidation in numerous studies, there is currently no established relationship between percolation volume and acidity load. This project investigates whether reducing incident water percolation with a SAR cover simply results in more concentrated deep drainage containing a comparable acidity load, with no net benefit of SAR installation.

Four material types will be subjected to various leaching volumes and leaching frequencies to test the efficacy of the theory that decreased percolation results in a lesser acidity and solute load. A 3-month column leach experiment will be run to investigate the temporal trend in acidity discharge.

Why my research is important

This project will help determine whether SAR covers actually achieve their designed objective of limiting the discharge of metals and acidity, collectively termed acid and metalliferous drainage (AMD), to the environment. Results from this thesis will advise Rio Tinto Iron Ore, and likely other iron ore miners in the Pilbara region on the effectiveness of SAR covers and may potentially suggest measures that could optimise to enable SAR covers to better achieve their final objective, to reduce AMD generation and transport to the environment.


  • Project Funding from Rio Tinto Iron Ore - Mine Closure group
  • 2012: $18,000
  • 2013: $10,000


School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering

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Last updated:
Thursday, 19 September, 2013 11:39 AM