FQM Australia Nickel Groundwater & Surface Water Monitoring Rationalisation Study, Ravensthorpe Nickel Operations

FQM Australia Nickel Groundwater & Surface Water Monitoring Rationalisation Study, Ravensthorpe Nickel Operations


FQMAN reopened the former BHPB nickel and cobalt mining and Hydrometallurgical processing operation in 2011; the site is located at Ravensthorpe, near the southern coast of Western Australia.

RNO mines nickel & cobalt lateritic saprolite deposits, which are processed on-site to produce a mixed nickel cobalt hydroxide product. Groundwater is fresh to hypersaline, and discharges to surface water courses, including the Jerdacuttup River and tributaries to the south/ southwest.

Groundwater is monitored around the mine, processing and tailings Storage areas, although bore locations have focused on groundwater resources, rather than on the areas of concern (AECs). Available bores have been sampled & analysed for a range of determinands, these have not reflected processes and potential contaminants of concern relevant to each area.
Groundwater contours were constructed to identify optimal bores for monitoring purposes and areas where additional monitoring should be provided.

Surface water has been monitored discontinuously, reflective of the site history and ephemeral nature of the water courses.

Surface water run-off from the site flows from north to south with the site straddling a surface water divide between the Bandalup & Burlabup Creeks, both are tributaries of the Jerdacuttup River. The River is saline with high nutrient levels so a monitoring program including background water quality sampling was proposed, with sampling occurring after significant rainfall events when the creeks are flowing.

Monitoring points are proposed for both upstream and downstream locations to ensure that any impact from the site operations can be identified.

Recommendations are made for improvements to the monitoring network to better reflect potential sources of contaminants that may impact groundwater and surface water quality. A sediment sampling program was also proposed

Stuart Jeffries
Hydrosolutions Pty Ltd

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