Prediction of water quality in mine lakes with and without remediation

Team Leaders: Professor Greg Ivey (The University of Western Australia), Dr Carolyn Oldham (The University of Western Australia)

Environmental regulatory authorities are reluctant to allow relinquishment of final mining pits until the long-term water quality of the resulting mine lakes can be established. The models of mining lake water quality currently used in Australia incorporate an array of geochemical and hydrological processes to describe transport into the lakes, yet then unrealistically assume a fully mixed water column within the lake to predict long term water quality. Since most mining lakes are density stratified, the assumption of a mixed water column will have serious implications on the models’ predictive capabilities.

The School of Environmental Systems Engineering, using Wesfarmers Premier Coal (Premier Coal) Western 5B lake in Collie WA, is developing science and modelling tools for water quality in density stratified mine lakes to underpin decision making – for legislation, relinquishment, remediation and end uses of former mining areas, and has already formed collaborative partnerships with overseas areas having similar mining void aspirations.This project will result in process-based models that describe the seasonal and longer term density stratification within mine lakes and are able to quantify the efficiency of proposed chemical, biological and microbial remedial techniques. The remediation of mine lakes will be greatly aided by the development of such models to assess alternative strategies and to determine likely time-scales of impact. The project aims to:

Develop and use coupled stratification and geochemical models to investigate the likely long term impacts of suggested remedial techniques, including but not limited to the treatment and re-injection of off take water.


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