Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy (DoE) is seeking $200m from the Australian Government to rehabilitate the sites around the decommissioned Rum Jungle uranium mine.
From the 1950s to 1971, uranium and copper were mined from Rum Jungle, Australia’s first uranium mine. Efforts to rehabilitate the area have been in process since the mine closed in 1971.
DoE’s principal mining scientist Tania Laurencont said: "The preferred rehabilitation strategy involves placing as much waste as possible back into the old open pits, while the remaining waste, which is about 50%, will be placed in a purpose built waste rock dump on site."
"Large earthmoving machinery also excavated sample pits into the existing waste rock dumps to collect representative samples to determine the physical and chemical properties of the waste.
"This information will be used to develop appropriate management and placement strategies for the waste in any future site rehabilitation.
DoE has completed a detailed investigation for the proposed remediation as part of site rehabilitation plan.
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DoE chief executive Scott Perkins said: "These detailed investigations will give our department a greater understanding of the site and will help form the final rehabilitation design which will be implemented in stage three, should future funding be made available.
While DoE principal mining scientist Tania Laurencont told the paper: "During stage one, we set that cost at just over $100m but as you work through detailed designed it’s certainly looking more in the range of $200m."
The rocks were larger and more oxidised than anticipated, Laurencont added. The buried waste rock released acid and metals into the East Finniss River, situated nearby posing threat to the natives.
Apart from the $8m spent on the initial plan, the Federal Government allocated $14m towards the design of the rehabilitation plan. Stage two is expected to be completed in June 2016.
Image: The Rum Jungle mine site. Photo: courtesy of Northern Territory Government.