Ore & Waste Characterisation

Waste characterisation is the study of the environmental impacts of mining waste during mining, processing and above ground storage of ore prior to treatment. At EESI, we are well-versed in the intricacies of ore and waste characterisation, and provide detailed characterisation services that help you identify and categorise waste materials thoroughly and accurately.

Our geologists, geochemists, and geomorpholists are experienced in the development of baseline characterisation plans and have the necessary tools to conduct kinetic testing to accurately predict acid mine drainage. 

Why Accurate Ore & Waste Characterisation Matters

Accurate characterisation of ore and waste is essential for successful metalliferous, coal and industrial minerals operations, as findings can directly affect your mine water management, waste landform design & emplacement, tailings dam and heap leach pad design & emplacement, costing and planning for progressive rehabilitation, decommissioning and closure practices. Identifying waste rock accurately and sufficiently is key for the metallurgical and approval processes, as well as the mine’s lifetime profitability.

Waste characterisation is also a key step in the process of determining the potential impacts of mining waste on the environment. Understanding waste characteristics enables you to understand whether your mining waste will cause acid and metalliferous drainage (AMD), saline and/or sodic drainage (i.e. neutral mine drainage) or leaching and mobilisation of metals and toxic compounds.

Starting the process early and engaging professionals with expertise in waste geochemistry and geomorphology can help ensure the success of your project. Through proper management of these resources, you can provide a strong foundation for a mine‘s longterm profitability, and avoid any operational issues or potential withdrawal of approval due to incorrect identification.

Expert Assessment for Lasting, Sustainable Solutions for your Project

A minimum of two steps are involved in the process of characterising waste; assessment and analysis. The assessment step involves determining the composition of the waste and the level of hazard it poses to people and the environment. This includes testing the waste for elevated natural occurring substances, presence of sulfides, carbonates, heavy metals, salts, physiochemical characteristics, dispersive and poseltic material. Thus initial testing includes acid/base balance, pH elemental composition, clay minerals and geological setting.

In some cases, you may need to conduct kinetic testing to predict acid mine drainage, particularly when the blasted particle size of sulfides is much smaller than carbonates or when sulfides are high but balanced by carbonate.

The subsequent analysis step involves assessing the waste to determine the classification of waste into hazard classes and to assist in the design of the waste repository based on those hazard classes. For metal sulfide mines the classes are typically Acid Forming (AF); Not Acid Forming (NAF), Acid Consuming (AC) and clay. The clay is used for a base and a cap but enough AC and NAF is required to underlay and top the AC.

Photo of ore and nickel

Benefits of Ore & Waste Characterisation with EESI

  • Expert team of geologists and environmental geochemists to conduct baseline characterisation plans and kinetic testing to accurately predict acid mine drainage
  • Reduced risks of serious operational problems and approval withdrawal due to misidentification of ore and waste
  • Solid basis for the mine's lifetime profitability

Cutting-Edge Solutions to Support Mining Operations from Exploration to Closure

Our integrated approach enables us to provide consolidated solutions that increase sustainability, security and value production at every stage of your mining project.

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