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Conference Proceedings

Water in Mining 2006

Conference Proceedings

Water in Mining 2006

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Open Cut Mining Adjacent to Ephemeral Creek and Spring Systems - Pilbara, Western Australia

The Pilbara region, located in the north-west of Western Australia, is significant as the second-largest source of iron ore on the planet. Iron ore mines owned and operated by Pilbara Iron are located within the Hamersley Basin. This paper refers to the Greater Paraburdoo mines, the 4WEST and 4EAST pits, located on the southern margin of the Hamersley Basin. The groundwater model refers to ephemeral watercourses: Seven Mile and Pirraburdoo creeks, which are adjacent to the two pits, and Ratty Springs, located upstream from 4WEST and within Pirraburdoo creek._x000D_
The spring and creeks hold cultural heritage significance for local Aboriginal communities. Two of these, the Gobawarrah Minduarra Yinhawanga (GMY) and Innawonga native title claim groups, initiated hydrological work on the two creeks and Ratty Springs, with the aim of determining the affects of dewatering on the natural water flows of these systems._x000D_
The numerical model used to simulate drawdown in the Pirraburdoo and Seven Mile Creeks was derived from PMWIN Pro software and covered an area of 77 km2. The modelling period was from January 1998 to December 2004, and the prediction period was from January 2005 to December 2015. The model has four layers and incorporated effects caused by mining voids, 4WEST and 4EAST pits, creek bed material, weathered bedrock below creeks and surrounding banded iron formations (BIF). The model has been calibrated using the trial-and-error method set down by Middelmis et al (2001). The current dewatering schedule (12 ML/day) in the 4WEST and 4EAST mining areas does not affect the water table levels in the adjacent creeks significantly or for any considerable periods of time._x000D_
However, changes to mine plans may occur, for example, in response to changed commodity price and may lead to significant increase in rates of vertical advancement. This, in turn, affects dewatering schedules, as greater vertical advancement requires increased dewatering effort. When an accelerated mine plan is applied to the model and dewatering rates increased to 18 ML/day, drawdowns in the creeks are more noticeable. The model has therefore helped to indicate the extent to which increased dewatering rates may be acceptable, especially in terms of immediate and longer-term damage to riparian species, ie Melaleuca and Eucalypt. Predictions from the model may also allow mine planners to schedule decreased rates of vertical advancement, where these are required to meet environmental constraints._x000D_
FORMAL CITATION:Rathbone, S, 2006. Open cut mining adjacent to Ephemeral Creek and spring systems - Pilbara, Western Australia, in Proceedings Water in Mining 2006, pp 351-360 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).
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  • Published: 2005
  • PDF Size: 2.711 Mb.
  • Unique ID: P200610045

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