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Effect of heterogeneity and anisotropy related to the construction method on transfer processes in waste rock piles.

Lahmira, Belkacem; Lefebvre, René; Aubertin, Michel; Bussière, Bruno (2016). Effect of heterogeneity and anisotropy related to the construction method on transfer processes in waste rock piles. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology , vol. 184 . p. 35-49. DOI: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2015.12.002.

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Résumé

Waste rock piles producing acid mine drainage (AMD) are partially saturated systems involving multiphase (gas and liquid) flow and coupled transfer processes. Their internal structure and heterogeneous properties are inherited from their wide-ranging material grain sizes, their modes of deposition, and the underlying topography. This paper aims at assessing the effect of physical heterogeneity and anisotropy of waste rock piles on the physical processes involved in the generation of AMD. Generic waste rock pile conditions were represented with the numerical simulator TOUGH AMD based on those found at the Doyon mine waste rock pile (Canada). Models included four randomly distributed material types (coarse, intermediate, fine and very fine-grained). The term “randomly” as used in this study means that the vertical profile and spatial distribution of materials in waste rock piles (internal structure) defy stratigraphy principles applicable to natural sediments (superposition and continuity). The materials have different permeability and capillary properties, covering the typical range of materials found in waste rock piles. Anisotropy with a larger horizontal than vertical permeability was used to represent the effect of pile construction by benches, while the construction by end-dumping was presumed to induce a higher vertical than horizontal permeability. Results show that infiltrated precipitation preferentially flows in fine-grained materials, which remain almost saturated, whereas gas flows preferentially through the most permeable coarse materials, which have higher volumetric gas saturation. Anisotropy, which depends on pile construction methods, often controls global gas flow paths. Construction by benches favours lateral air entry close to the pile slope, whereas end-dumping leads to air entry from the surface to the interior of the pile by secondary gas convection cells. These results can be useful to construct and rehabilitate waste rock piles to minimize AMD, while controlling gas flow and oxygen supply.

Type de document:
Mots-clés libres: acid mine drainage; multiphase fluid flow; preferential flow; heterogeneity; anisotropy
Centre: Centre Eau Terre Environnement
Date de dépôt: 20 déc. 2016 16:13
Dernière modification: 20 déc. 2016 16:13
URI: http://espace.inrs.ca/id/eprint/3984

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