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Field Determination of the Intrinsic Oxidation Rate of Sulfidic Materials in Waste Rock Dumps

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  • A practical field method for determining the maximum value of the intrinsic oxidation rate, Smax , of sulfidic materials in waste rock dumps is proposed. Knowledge of the intrinsic oxidation rate of sulfidic materials distributed in a dump is necessary for predictive modelling of oxidation and pollutant generation over time. The suggested method uses the fact that drilling waste rock dumps to install probes for monitoring temperature and oxygen concentration causes large volumes of air to be injected into a dump by the drill rig. By measuring the rate of decrease of oxygen concentration along the length of a borehole immediately after installation, it is proposed that Smax can be calculated at different depths. The aims of this work were: to derive a simple, practical formula for the estimation of Smax from the oxygen concentrations measured over time, based on some simplifying assumptions; to use a two-dimensional numerical model that incorporates all the necessary physical processes to model the behaviour of an aerated dump over time for a reasonable range of dump and material parameters; and to compare the results of the two approaches to assess the validity of the simple formula as a method for estimating Smax. It has been found that the technique can provide reliable estimates of Smax when the value is of the order of 10-7 kg(O2) m-3 s -1 or greater. At the lower end of the range however the radius of the zone aerated during drilling becomes an important parameter and further work has been recommended to investigate this aspect of the method.

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