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Land application of mine water causes minimal uranium loss offsite in the wet-dry tropics: Ranger Uranium Mine, Northern Territory, Australia

Mumtaz, Saqib, Streten, Claire, Parry, David L., McGuinness, Keith A., Lu, Ping and Gibb, Karen S. (2015). Land application of mine water causes minimal uranium loss offsite in the wet-dry tropics: Ranger Uranium Mine, Northern Territory, Australia. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity,149:121-128.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 75039815xPUB965
Title Land application of mine water causes minimal uranium loss offsite in the wet-dry tropics: Ranger Uranium Mine, Northern Territory, Australia
Author Mumtaz, Saqib
Streten, Claire
Parry, David L.
McGuinness, Keith A.
Lu, Ping
Gibb, Karen S.
Journal Name Journal of Environmental Radioactivity
Publication Date 2015
Volume Number 149
ISSN 0265-931X   (check CDU catalogue  open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84938334211
Start Page 121
End Page 128
Total Pages 8
Place of Publication United Kingdom
Publisher Elsevier Ltd
Field of Research ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Ranger Uranium Mine (RUM) is situated in the wet-dry tropics of Northern Australia. Land application (irrigation) of stockpile (ore and waste) runoff water to natural woodland on the mine lease is a key part of water management at the mine. Consequently, the soil in these Land Application Areas (LAAs) presents a range of uranium (U) and other metals concentrations. Knowledge of seasonal and temporal changes in soil U and physicochemical parameters at RUM LAAs is important to develop suitable management and rehabilitation strategies. Therefore, soil samples were collected from low, medium, high and very high U sites at RUM LAAs for two consecutive years and the effect of time and season on soil physicochemical parameters particularly U and other major solutes applied in irrigation water was measured. Concentrations of some of the solutes applied in the irrigation water such as sulphur (S), iron (Fe) and calcium (Ca) showed significant seasonal and temporal changes. Soil S, Fe and Ca concentration decreased from year 1 to year 2 and from dry to wet seasons during both years. Soil U followed the same pattern except that we recorded an increase in soil U concentrations at most of the RUM LAAs after year 2 wet season compared to year 2 dry season. Thus, these sites did not show a considerable decrease in soil U concentration from year 1 to year 2. Sites which contained elevated U after wet season 2 also had higher moisture content which suggests that pooling of U containing rainwater at these sites may be responsible for elevated U. Thus, U may be redistributed within RUM LAAs due to surface water movement. The study also suggested that a decrease in U concentrations in LAA soils at very high U (>900 mg kg−1) sites is most likely due to transport of particulate matter bound U by surface runoff and U may not be lost from the surface soil due to vertical movement through the soil profile. Uranium attached to particulate matter may reduce its potential for environmental impact. These findings suggest that U is effectively adsorbed by the soils and thus land application may serve as a useful tool for U management in the wet-dry tropics of northern Australia.
Keywords Ranger Uranium Mine
Land Application Areas
Uranium concentration
Physicochemical parameters
Irrigation water
Seasonal changes
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2015.07.014   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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