National Research Council of Canada. Energy, Mining and Environment
acid rock drainage; full-scale waste rock piles; leaching chemistry; leaching process; net infiltration rate
The leaching process and drainage chemistry of acid rock drainage is mainly controlled by geochemical reactions and how water carries soluble reaction products in waste rock piles. This paper studied how water flows through a full-scale waste rock pile at the Equity Silver mine site in British Columbia, Canada and elaborated on their effects on the leaching process and drainage chemistry. A revised dual-permeability model coupled with mass transport was adopted to investigate preferential flow and matrix flow in the pile simultaneously while considering water and geochemical products leaching/exchange between them. Furthermore, a particle-level water film model and also the effects of air flow, oxygen transport, and heat transfer in pile scale were integrated to account for geochemical reactions. Simulation results of full-scale iron discharge showed that aqueous concentrations in drainage water did not vary significantly relative to variations in drainage flow rate, which was confirmed by 12 years of field monitoring data. In addition, the comparison of pre- and post-cover simulations with measured lime consumption during ARD treatment, and mass-balance/dilution calculations for the entire pile, indicates that roughly 15–20% of total precipitation passes through the cover.