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Evaluation of Sulfide and Carbonate Distribution in Waste Rock Dumps and Development of Operational Guidelines for Acid Rock Drainage Control at the Ok Tedi Mine, Papua New Guinea

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  • The Ok Tedi porphyry copper and gold mine is an open-pit operation located within the Star Mountains in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea and is situated near the headwaters of the Ok Tedi-Fly River system. The climate is equatorial sub-alpine with rainfall ranging from five to ten metres per year. Mining commenced in 1984 and to-date approximately 500 Mt of waste rock has been produced. A failing waste rock dump system operates whereby the dumps are eroded by tributary creeks of the Ok Tedi. It is estimated that approximately 250 Mt of waste is retained within the upper reaches of the river system. The waste rock comprises both potentially acid forming rock and limestone and to-date the overall waste has been acid consuming. However, the long-term mine plan identifies declining limestone production and hence an increasing risk of acid generation over the remaining years of the operation. A program was initiated to determine the net acid producing potential (NAPP) required (ie target NAPP) to minimise the risk of acid generation within the waste rock dumps. The results from this program provide guidelines for an operational target NAPP strategy to provide sufficient acid buffering across all size fractions in the waste rock dump for long-term ARD control. Implementation of this plan requires additional limestone to be mined and co-disposed with ROM waste rock.

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