Modelling Hydrological Performance of a Bauxite Residue Profile for Deposition Management of a Storage Facility

Accurate scheduling of bauxite residue (red mud) deposition time is required in order to prevent the risk of storage facility failure. This study was conducted to precisely determine the hydraulic parameters of bauxite residue and investigate the capability of HYDRUS to accurately estimate the residue moisture profile and the timing for its deposition. The hydraulic properties of the bauxite residue profile were determined by solving an inverse problem. A one-dimensional hydrological model (HYDRUS-1D) was validated using a 300 mm long column filled with bauxite residue and exposed to a dynamic lower boundary condition. After numerical validation, the model was used to simulate the moisture profile of bauxite residue under the climatic conditions of an alumina refinery site in Queensland, Australia, as well as other scenarios (i.e., high (300 mm) and small (1.7 mm) rainfall events of the site). This study showed that the HYDRUS model can be used as a predictive tool to precisely estimate the moisture profile of the bauxite residue and that the timing for the re-deposition of the bauxite residue can be estimated by understanding the moisture profile and desired shear strength of the residue. This study revealed that the examined bauxite residue approaches field capacity (water potential −10 kPa) after three days from a low rainfall event (<1.7 mm) and after eight days from an intense rainfall event (300 mm) at the time of disposal. This suggests that the bauxite residue can be deposited every four days after low rainfall events (as low as 1.7 mm) and every nine days after high rainfall events (as high as 300 mm) at the time of deposition, if bauxite residue experiences an initial drying period following deposition.

Shaygan, M., B. Usher and T. Baumgartl. 2020.  “Modelling Hydrological Performance of a Bauxite Residue Profile for Deposition Management of a Storage Facility.” Water 2020, 12, 1988. https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/12/7/1988