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The Influence of Solar Radiation on Evaporation for Three-Dimensional Flux Boundary Modelling of Soil Cover Systems on Waste Rock Dumps

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  • Net solar radiation is one of the key factors affecting evaporation from soil covers on waste rock dumps. While net solar radiation is normally taken as a uniform parameter over a site for modelling purposes, there can be significant variation in the radiation actually received on various portions of the dump. These variations are a function of the difference in the cover slope and direction of exposure. A predictive model has been developed to calculate the actual radiation received on the dump surfaces, based on the net radiation data measured at a weather station on a horizontal surface. The model has been designed for application at any mine site in the world, and can be used in conjunction with evaporative flux models to help estimate the effect of three-dimensional variations in the cover surface exposure. The waste rock dump at Equity Silver site (located in British Columbia, Canada) has a barrier-type soil cover system to limit oxygen entry and water infiltration. This cover has been monitored for the past nine years. The new net solar radiation model has been applied to this site and the predicted net radiation was compared to the values of actual net radiation measured on the site. The predicted variations in net radiation over the three-dimensional surface of the waste rock dump have been applied to calculate spatial variations in potential and actual evaporation (or evapotranspiration) from the site. Preliminary analyses indicate actual evaporation from a site at this latitude could vary by a factor of two for exposed versus shaded slopes. The implications of these variations for the site are considered.

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