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Long-Term Monitoring of Water Infiltration Through Covers at White’s Waste Rock Dump at the Rum Jungle Mine Site Using Lysimeters

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  • Monitoring of water infiltration into White’s waste rock dump at the Rum Jungle mine site in the Northern Territory, Australia, started in 1983, and has since produced a unique and long-running data set. Following closure of the uranium mining operations at the site, a soil cover was constructed on the dump in 1984 primarily to reduce water infiltration into, and the quantity of low quality effluent out of, the waste material. The performance of the cover in reducing water infiltration has been monitored using ten lysimeters installed across the dump prior to construction of the cover. Over the past eight years or so, the average infiltration rate as measured by the ten lysimeters appears to have risen compared to the early years of monitoring. The significance of this apparent increase is discussed given the variability observed in the data from individual lysimeters, and the variability in the rainfall. Estimates of the infiltration rate as measured by each of the lysimeters are examined using statistical tools. It is concluded that the infiltration rate has increased with time and with increasing rainfall. The increase with time is a stronger factor than the increase with rainfall. It is further surmised that the cover system at the locations of the lysimeters is less effective now at reducing infiltration into the dump than it was when newly installed.

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