British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Prediction of future water chemistry from Island Copper Mine’s on-land dumps Morin, Kevin A. (Kevin Andrew), 1955-; Hutt, Nora M.; Horne, Ian A.


Island Copper Mine will close shortly and one part of closure planning involved predictions of water chemistry from the on-land waste-rock dumps over decades to centuries. The approach used to create the predictions entailed a statistical assessment of existing monitoring data, involving analyses of more than 5,800 drainage samples over 24 years. The results showed that aqueous concentrations have followed regular, predictable trends as pH evolved from pH-neutral to acidic conditions. As long as these acidic conditions persist, ranges of concentrations similar to those already measured are expected to continue. After acidic conditions dissipate and pH eventually returns to near-neutral levels, the predictable trends should again be followed. These trends were defined by empirical equations and were compiled into a "predictive water-chemistry model". This model predicts that copper in acidic water, for example, should have a mean annual concentration around 0.73 mg/L with low-high monthly averages of 0.14 and 3.7 mg/L.

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