Open pit flooding as a post-closure option: a geochemical approach
Van Coller, André Abel
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Australasian, European, Canadian and American geo-environmental specialists have long been involved with pit lake studies in the physical processes and dynamics as well as the geochemical aspects of these mitigation methods and events. The use of pit flooding as an environmental post-closure option has however been studied and used to a limited extent in Southern Africa and Africa to a whole, with some recorded cases mostly being by accident rather than a planned mitigation. This document is a written paper on a hydrogeochemical investigation on the feasibility of flooding an open pit platinum mine in the Bushveld Igneous Complex as a post-closure mitigation option. Various data sets and sources were compiled and processed and served as input data into a hydrogeochemical model of the expected impacts on the conceptual meromictic pit lake environment. Weathering and speciation models allowed the evaluation of the current system with thermodynamic and chemical reaction processes leading to the hydrochemical composition of the groundwater as we observe it in the field. Furthermore transient mixing simulations between groundwater, surface water and rain water was allowed to occur under various reducing and evaporative conditions. The modelled lake chemistry was then evaluated against recreational, agricultural and domestic water use standards to investigate the feasibility of the lake to be used post-closure. Final recommendations and mitigation methods were proposed with the flooding of the open pit as a post-closure option declared feasible. A final deliverable of the study was a system thinking and modelling template for hydrogeochemical modelling in various scenarios to guide other scientist through the process of modelling fluid-rock, fluid-waste and fluid-fluid interaction.