From a career that focused on the flotation process and interactions at mineral/water/air interfaces, focus has evolved towards understanding the interactions that occur at the society/technology/policy interfaces. The development of ‘T’ shaped professionals that can contribute technical depth as well as breadth by working in interdisciplinary teams. This will build future leadership capacity through education, research and engagement and international communities of practice and contribute to the sustainability of the provision of minerals and metals to the world.
Project Title:The Development of an Integrated Approach for the Prediction of Acid Rock Drainage from Waste Rock
Research Theme: Licence to Operate
Supervisors: Prof Sue Harrison; Assoc. Prof Jenny Broadhurst; Dr Megan Becker
Mining operations result in the generation of substantial volumes of waste material with significant potentials for environmental degradation. Of particular concern is the generation of acid rock drainage (ARD) which is characterised by acidic pHs and elevated element and salt concentrations. Importantly, ARD generation often exceeds the working life-time of the mining operations by decades or centuries. The long-term nature of this pollution, therefore, necessitates the prediction of ARD risks prior to the mining activity, with direct input for the development of sustainable waste management strategies.
This PhD project aims to improve the current characterization and prediction methods which fail to account for a number of factors governing ARD generation. Improvements in the standard test methodologies will be achieved through the development of novel test methods, with the interpretation of the laboratory test results underpinned by the fundamental understanding gained from mineralogical and geochemical analysis of the wastes. Mathematical models will be used to predict ARD test responses both in the laboratory and at the mine site, with validation of simulations at both scales. The development of the resulting integrated framework will allow for a better understanding of the ARD risks of the long-term, allowing for improvements in risk prediction.
OPITZ, A. K. B., BECKER, M., BROADHURST, J. L., BRADSHAW, D. J. & HARRISON, S. T. L. The Biokinetic Test as a Geometallurgical Indicator for Acid Rock Drainage Potentials. The Third AusIMM International Geometallurgy Conference, 15-16 June 2016a Perth, Australia. AusIMM, 183-191.
OPITZ, A. K. B., BECKER, M., HARRISON, S. T. L. & BROADHURST, J. L. Characterising Environmental Risks Associated with Sulfide-bearing Gold Wastes. In: DREBENSTEDT, C. & PAUL, M., eds. International Mine Water Association Conference 2016, 2016b Leipzig, Germany. 1050-1058
OPITZ, A., BROADHURST, J. L. & HARRISON, S. T. Assessing Environmental Risks Associated with Ultrafine Coal Wastes Using Laboratory-Scale Tests. Advanced Materials Research, 2015. Trans Tech Publ, 635-639.