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Laboratory Calibration and Initial Results of a Soil Moisture Monitoring System at the Mt Leyshon Tailings Dam and Waste Rock Cover System

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  • Newmont Australia is the operator of the Mt Leyshon mine near Charters Towers, Queensland. Mt Leyshon is an open cut gold mine, which processed on average 5.0 Mt of ore and produced up to 250 000 ounces of gold per year. Mining was completed in early-2001, followed by treatment of low-grade ore stockpiles for a further 12 months. Approximately 250 ha of waste rock dumps have been rehabilitated. Rehabilitation of two of the three tailings storage facilities (TSF) has been completed and the third is in progress. A field performance monitoring system that includes an automated meteorological station, large-scale lysimeters (measurement of net percolation), and in situ moisture content sensors (measurement of moisture storage changes in the cover material) were installed to monitoring performance of the cover systems placed on the waste storage facilities. This paper focuses on the installation and calibration of the in situ moisture monitoring system. The moisture monitoring system provides automated detailed in situ volumetric water content data above and within the large-scale lysimeters. A portable unit that provides spatial in situ moisture content measurements at additional locations on the cover system is also utilised. The paper will focus on installation and calibration of the in situ water content monitoring instrument in the waste rock, coarse cover material, and fine textured cover materials of the tailings facility and waste rock dump cover systems.

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