Author: Dr Cherie McCullough, Perth

This article has not yet been reviewed

Open cut pit lakes

Pit lakes form when surface mines close and open pits fill with water, either through groundwater recharge (Werner et al., 2001; Brown & Trott, 2014), surface water diversion (Schultze et al., 2011b; McCullough, 2015; McCullough & Schultze, 2015) or active pumping (Schultze et al., 2011c). Historically, the success in closing mines with pit lakes has varied tremendously: there are well known examples of legacy sites requiring perpetual treatment (Pellicori, 2005; Fisher & Lawrence, 2006), whereas some other pit lakes have achieved various beneficial end uses (McCullough & Lund, 2006; McCullough et al., 2009a; McCullough & Van Etten, 2011).

There are a number of key issues that should be addressed in the mine planning process to increase the likelihood of successful mine closure (Vandenberg et al., 2015). These include:

  • determining potential risks and beneficial end use opportunities (Doupé & Lymbery, 2005; McCullough & Lund, 2006)
  • developing closure objectives and criteria (McCullough, 2016) which may include various water quality, riparian (Van Etten et al., 2014) and littoral (McCullough et al., 2009b; Lund & McCullough, 2011) objectives
  • anticipating and meeting stakeholder and regulator expectations (Swanson, 2011; Swanson et al., 2011)
  • subaqueous disposal of liquid and solid mine waste (Puhalovich & Coghill, 2011; Schultze et al., 2011a)
  • predicting and managing water balances (McCullough et al., 2013; Castendyk et al., 2014; Castendyk et al., 2015)
  • identifying contaminants of concern (Miller et al., 2013; McCullough & Pearce, 2014)
  • historical reliability of model predictions (Kuipers et al., 2006)
  • mitigating acid mine drainage (DIIS, 2016)
  • the importance of understanding long-term vertical mixing regimes (Boehrer & Schultze, 2006; Schultze & Boehrer, 2008; Boehrer et al., 2014); and,
  • health and safety issues (Ross & McCullough, 2011; Hinwood et al., 2012).

References

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Brown, K. & Trott, S. (2014). Groundwater flow models in open pit mining: can we do better? Mine Water and the Environment 33: 187-190.

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