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
Supervisors: Prof Sue Harrison; Assoc. Prof Jenny Broadhurst; Dr Megan Becker
The generation of substantial quantities of waste material with little economic value is a direct consequence of the mining of metal-bearing ores. The problems arising from these wastes are numerous and multi-faceted. Of particular environmental concern is the contamination of water courses through the generation and transport of acidic rock drainage (ARD) from sulfidic mine wastes. This pollution often contains elevated concentrations of toxic metal anions and salinity concentrations, with ARD generation often exceeding the working life-time of the mining operations by decades and centuries. At source, prevention, containment and treatment remains the ideal strategy for the management of ARD. This, however, necessitates the accurate and reliable characterisation and prediction of the potential hazards associated with its’ generation. The current standard characterisation and prediction methods fail to account for a multitude of factors affecting ARD generation. Limitations in the physical, chemical and biological conditions used in the current test methods often failing to provide realistic estimates for ARD generation in the field. The consequence of these may lead to large-scale misclassification of the mine wastes.
This PhD project aims to improve the reliability of ARD characterisation and prediction through the development of an integrated protocol to assess ARD generation at the laboratory scale. In conjunction with the current methods, improved test methodologies will be developed for ARD generating systems with time, recognising the importance of factors currently not accounted. Integration of the experimental results with detailed knowledge from mineralogical and geochemical analysis will allow for a better understanding of the potential for pollution formation. Validation of the laboratory-scale results with those obtained from field-scale tests will be performed using mathematical modeling. Improvements in ARD characterisation and prediction will allow for the upfront implementation of management strategies for ARD generation during the working lifetime of the mining operation.
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.