Establishing a vegetative cover on base metal tailings - experience at Buchmans, Newfoundland

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 74, No. 836, 1981

PAUL J. O'BRIEN, Mine and Environmental Engineer, GEORGE N. NEARY, Assistant General Manager, ASARCO Incorporated, Buchans Unit, Buchans, Newfoundland

The base metal mine at Buchans, Newfoundland, has been producing since 1928. For many years, mill tailings were disposed of by dumping into a nearby natural watercourse via which they were transported to Red Indian Lake and deposited. In 1965, environmental concerns prompted the establishment of settling ponds near the mine site. Effluents fed to these ponds included slimes washed from mine backfill sand and waste water pumped from underground as well as mill tailings. Dusting around the perimeter of the ponds was first observed around 1970 and within a couple of years reached serious proportions. A program to alleviate the condition by developing a vegetative cover over the tailings was commenced in 1974. The work was successfully carried out and demonstrated that the large area of waste could sustain a permanent cover of grasses.This paper outlines the experimental work done at Buchans as well as the procedures followed and the problems encountered in carrying out full-scale revegetation.
Keywords: Environmental control, Vegetation, Reclamation, Tailings, Buchans Mine, Pollution control, Dusting, Stabilization, Grasses, Air monitoring.