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Mineral Resources Tasmania

UTAS Honours Projects at Endurance Mine Site

The Mining Sector Innovation Initiative Program (MSIIP), managed by Mineral Resources Tasmania (MRT), funds collaborative work between government, industry, and research institutions. The program aims to host research projects focused on four project areas, one being the investigation of innovative solutions for mine rehabilitation and remediation.

Three UTAS Environmental Earth Science honours projects, funded through the Mining Sector Innovation Initiative Program (MSIIP), were completed in December 2020 at the legacy Endurance Mine Site near South Mount Cameron, Tasmania.

The UTAS honours projects aimed to characterise groundwater flow and preferential pathways of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) in the legacy mine wastes. The students combined sediment geochemistry and mineralogy (Eliza Fisher), hydrogeology (Olivia Wilson) and geophysics (Wei Heng) to build on previous research and help inform future remediation efforts.

Wei’s project used several geophysical methods to define and characterise the thickness and internal structure of the mine wastes. A three-dimensional model of the mine wastes, the water table and granitic basement was created and used to estimate the mass of mine waste at ~4 Mt.

Olivia’s project characterised the subsurface contaminant flow through the waste rock piles. This was achieved through the installation, sampling, and field-based testing of nine groundwater monitoring wells. Olivia integrated her findings with the geophysical models to generate a high-resolution hydrological flow model of the groundwater system.

Eliza’s project examined the source and fate of acid and metals of concern through detailed mineralogy and lab-based solubility testing. Eliza’s project modelled the geochemical and mineralogical controls on trace element mobility.

The findings of these projects provide insight about long-term processes occurring at the site and will help guide the development of an effective remediation strategy.