McArthur River Mine Geochemistry Assessments

Northern Territory, Australia

Klohn Crippen Berger was commissioned to conduct a series of geochemical assessments on the northern overburden emplacement facility (NOEF) and for the tailings storage facility (TSF) at Glencore Xstrata Zinc’s McArthur River Mine (MRM). Successful delivery of the initial geochemical assessments has led to ongoing more detailed geochemical investigations and integration of the geochemical properties into the mine waste management plans and updated  designs.


  • Desktop geochemical assessment.
  • Overburden geochemistry assessment: Phase A and B.
  • Consideration of the cover design of the Northern
  • Overburden Emplacement Facility (NOEF) from ageochemical perspective.
  • Development of a detailed waste classification guide.
  • Clay physical, chemical and thermal assessments.
  • Tailing geochemical classification.
  • Low-grade ore stockpile geochemical assessment.
  • TSF seepage review.
  • TSF cover design assessment.
  • Final Void Geochemistry.
  • Field barrel leaching test design.
  • Spontaneous Combustion Remediation Plan.
  • Spontaneous Combustion Management Plan.


KCB conducted geochemical and thermal assessment of waste rock, low-grade ore, clay and tailings materials. The geochemical assessments included a combination of field testing (including handheld X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy), static laboratory testing and kinetic laboratory testing to assess the potential for heavy metal leachate release and Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) from the overburden and tailings material generated. The outcomes of the geochemical test work were used to devise a waste rock classification guide designs, including optimisation of clay cover thickness.

Also as part of the work, KCB designed a field barrel leach experiment used to determine: the rate at which metals leach from the materials, the rate at which acidity and alkalinity is produced, mitigation strategies, neutral drainage of metals, the different classes of PAF and NAF, scaling from laboratory to site and the results may also provide the basis for future geochemical modelling. New Innovations: A significant development of this project was the application of handheld X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer to classify waste rock material according to potential for heavy metal leachate release and acid and neutral rock drainage. Client Feedback: The client has indicated that they have been impressed with the high quality of deliverables received to date. Following the completion of the initial geochemical assessments, the client immediately awarded KCB subsequent scopes of work, including a spontaneous combustion management plan. Awards/ Recognitions/ Submissions: The results from the Waste Rock Classification Guide has been accepted for oral presentation at the 8th Australian Workshop on Acid and Metalliferous Drainage, and the accompanying paper will be published as part of the conference proceedings: M. Landers, B. Usher, D. Faulkner, P. Marianelli and K. Masterman (2014) Field and Desktop Waste Rock Classification Guide for a Metalliferous Mine in the Northern Territory, Australia, Proceeding from the 8th Australian Workshop on Acid and Metalliferous Drainage.

McArthur River Mine 1 year ago
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