British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Capillary break cover design at Lorado mill tailings site Tong, Alvin; Miskolczi, Iozsef; Allen, Dianne; Wilson, Ian; Rykaart, Maritz


The historical Lorado mill tailings site deposited uranium tailings within and adjacent to nearby Nero Lake. The remediation plans called for a capillary break tailings cover with in-lake water treatment to reduce radiation exposure from the tailings, limit tailings dust inhalation and acid generation, prevent efflorescent salts formation, and block tailings pore fluid uptake from vegetation. Detailed designs, including water and load balances were developed to establish appropriate in-lake water treatment design criteria and to set measurable load reduction targets for the cover efficiency. A borrow source investigation was carried out to confirm whether appropriate volumes of suitable cover materials were available for the proposed design. These studies showed original remediation plan assumptions were no longer valid. This paper will describe the engineering process that was followed to evaluate and ultimately adopt appropriate design criteria to ensure that realistic, site-wide closure objectives could be met. The authors will emphasize the importance of linking design criteria to measurable and achievable performance criteria that can be properly evaluated over the intended life of the design.

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