Contaminant dispersion at the rehabilitated Radium Hill uranium mine, South Australia

Lottermoser, Bernd , and Ashley, Paul (2005) Contaminant dispersion at the rehabilitated Radium Hill uranium mine, South Australia. In: Proceedings of Annual Conference of the German Mineralogical Society (17) p. 84. From: Annual Conference of the German Mineralogical Society, 18-21 September 2005, Aachen, Germany.

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Abstract

This work reports on the dispersion of contaminants from the rehabilitated Radium Hill uranium deposit, South Australia. The Radium Hill deposit was discovered in 1906 and mined for radium between 1906 and 1931 and for uranium between 1954 and 1961 (production of 0.9 Mt of davidite ore averaging 0.12% U30s). Rehabilitation was limited to removal of mine facilities, sealing of underground workings and capping of selected waste repositories. Numerous waste dumps of uncrushed rock occur adjacent to former shafts over a strike length of of ≈800 m. Evident ore grade material (0.1 - 0.2 % U) is characterised by aggregates of Fe-Ti oxide ll)inerals (including davidite), high radiation levels (max. 5000 cps; max. 4.2 uSv/br) and distinct Ce, La, Nb, Sc, Th, Ti U, V and Y enrichments. Prior to covering in the early 1980s, wind deflation was evidently significant about the main tailings dam (0.5 Mt of tailings) and fine tailings material has been dispersed several kilometres downwind. Tailings possess elevated radiation levels (1400-5500 cps; max. 3.5 uSvlhr) and pronounced Ce, La, Sc, Th, U, V and Y enrichments. Throughout the mine/industrial site, township and local area, crushed rock from the mine has been used for ground cover at worksites, roads (including as a component of asphalt) and for concrete structures. Hence, regional airborne radiometric data outline the town and mine site as well as the local roads as pronounced U-Th anomalies. The data indicate that physical dispersion of tailings and waste fines has occurred into local topsoils and stream sediments. Capping of tailings storage facilities did not ensure long-term containment of low-level radioactive wastes due to erosion of sides of the impoundments. Moreover, active wind erosion of waste fines from various, physically unstable waste repositories causes increasing radiochemical and geochemical (Ce, La, Sc, Th, U, V, Y) impacts on local soils and sediments. However, measured radiation levels of soils and sediments are at or below Australian Radiation Protection Standards (20 mSv/year averaged over five consecutive years).

Item ID: 8162
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
ISSN: 1972-1366
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Event title "83. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Mineralogischen Gesellschaft"

Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2010 00:35
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0402 Geochemistry > 040202 Inorganic Geochemistry @ 100%
SEO Codes: 84 MINERAL RESOURCES (excl. Energy Resources) > 8498 Environmentally Sustainable Mineral Resource Activities > 849899 Environmentally Sustainable Mineral Resource Activities not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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