Geochemical investigations to improve the prediction of mine water impacts: A case study in the Elandsfontein Aquifer System, West Coast.

The impact of the future closure of the KROPZ phosphate mine in the West Coast on the various potential receptors including the underlying Elandsfontein Aquifer System (EAS), Langebaan Lagoon (RAMSAR-site) and wetlands were assessed. This abstract/paper describes the geochemical characterization and management options related to the waste streams from the mining activity, to assess the post closure contribution to groundwater flow from the mine towards potential receptors. The PHREEQC geochemical modelling code was used to predict potential mine water impacts. The input water quality parameters used in the model included: background groundwater quality, pit water and processed water generated from phosphate separation process at the mine. Various scenarios were simulated combining the different process water streams with the tailings and soft stockpile material at the mine. The geochemical predictions showed some management options that should be prevented, while also providing guidance to promising options where most of the chemical parameters does not exceed the WUL stage 1 thresholds. There is however, an increase in sulphate concentrations that need attending to before the mine goes into production phase. Currently there seems to be no immediate concern on the Lagoon relating to the prediction of mine water impacts post mine closure. Some of the management scenarios do however show low levels of potential impacts on SANParks property 100 years post closure. These predictions do however correlate to areas where limited calibration data is available. At the time of this abstract the sites for new boreholes have been selected and the initial boreholes are being drilled to confirm aquifer properties in areas with limited data.

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West Coast
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