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The Design, Construction, Instrumentation and Performance of a Full-Scale Overburden Stockpile Trial for Mitigation of Acid Rock Drainage, Grasberg Mine, Papua Province, Indonesia

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  • As part of a long-term acid rock drainage (ARD) mitigation study, PT Freeport Indonesia has completed the construction of a highly instrumented, full-scale, experimental, overburden stockpile to further evaluate the behaviour of the waste rock system at Grasberg mine. A total of 24 lysimeters, 30 sets of thermistor strings and 48 oxygen-sampling ports were installed at select locations during stockpile construction. ARD flow rates and chemistry have been recorded since the start of overburden rock placement in April 2000. Measurements of in situ temperatures and oxygen concentrations quantify reaction rates and the oxygen pathways that control oxidation kinetics deep within the waste rock profile. Direct field observations show the significance of advective oxygen flow with respect to the onset of oxidation kinetics. Oxygen measurements show that the rubble zone that forms at the base of a waste rock bench provides a critical pathway for oxygen entry to the waste rock profile. Furthermore, rapid oxidation as evidenced by measured temperature increases deep within the panels of waste rock is observed to occur. The observations presented in this paper provide critical insight for understanding the mechanisms and behaviour of full-scale waste rock stockpiles with respect to ARD generation. The results of this program will assist in the future selection, testing and evaluation of appropriate mitigation measures with respect to surface and face treatments to reduce long-term ARD generation. This project is a work in progress, and at least another two-years will be required to fully understand site-specific ARD generation and ARD mitigation mechanisms. This paper will discuss various design and construction considerations, provide an overview of results achieved to date, and some preliminary interpretation of what is happening within the overburden stockpiles.

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