Tailings leak under control, scientist

Acting Supervising Scientist Dr David Jones has told MINING DAILY that there has been no breach of Ranger Uranium Mine's environmental operating conditions, despite recent concerns that water leaking from the Ranger Tailings Dam was damaging the environment.

Acting Supervising Scientist Dr David Jones has told MINING DAILY that there has been no breach of the Ranger Uranium Mine’s environmental operating conditions, despite recent concerns that water leaking from Ranger Tailings Dam was damaging the environment.

According to the Supervising Scientist, the seepage from the Ranger Tailings Dam, around 100,000 L per day, remains well within the Ranger Project Area and does not pose any risk to the external environment of Kakadu National Park.

NT Resources Minister Kon Vatskalis told reporters recently that he is concerned about the leak, but the mine is well monitored.

“I’m prepared to talk with the Office of the Supervising Scientist to find out exactly what’s happening, why it’s happening and how the scientists and the company are going to address this issue,” Vatskalis said.

According to Jones, the mine operator, ERA, continues to undertake a comprehensive program of groundwater monitoring around and downstream of the Tailings Dam.

“Rigorous chemical, radiological and biological monitoring conducted annually by the Supervising Scientist in the waterways downstream of the minesite continues to show that mining activities at Ranger have not detrimentally impacted the aquatic environment of Kakadu National Park,” Jones said.

“The performance of the Ranger Tailings Dam is assessed annually by the NT Government regulator and the Supervising Scientist in conjunction with the design engineer. To date these assessments have indicated that the Ranger Tailings Dam continues to operate within its design specification and operational criteria.”

Staff from the Office of the Supervising Scientist will be undertaking an inspection of the Ranger Tailings Dam in the next few days as part of a regular inspection schedule for the operational areas of the lease.

According to Jones, seepage from the Ranger Tailings Dam contains various salts (predominantly epsom salts, magnesium sulfate) and very low levels of uranium, radium and other metals.

“The Ranger Tailings Dam consists of a core of compacted clay overlain by rock and has been designed to comply with the most stringent international standards for water containing structures,” Jones said.

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