Surface Water Management System: Detailed Design for the Closure of Waste Rock Facilities of Alumbrera Mine


Minera Alumbrera


Catamarca, Argentina
Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Since 2010 Golder has been providing support in the analysis and design for the closure of the Bajo de Alumbrera tailings and waste rock facilities, a copper, gold, and molybdenum deposit developed by means of open-pit mining between 1997 and 2017. Operated by Glencore, Minera Alumbrera is in Argentina, 1100km NW of the city of Buenos Aires in the northwest of the province of Catamarca. It is at an altitude of 2,600 meters above sea level.

During the past 10 years Golder has performed the following for our client:

  • Engineering of the cover system
  • Engineering design of rainwater runoff discharge and containment systems
  • Water balances
  • Hydrology assessments
  • Hydrogeochemical assessments
  • Design, construction and hydrogeological modelling of pilot scale waste rock and tailings cover cells.

The site is currently on stand by and in the process of the implementation of its closure plan. Golder is carrying out the detailed design for the surface water management system and hydrogeological 1D and 2D modelling as part of the mine closure plan for waste rock facilities in Bajo de la Alumbrera and Bajo el Durazno area. This is based on up-to-date data measured from the pilot cells to confirm and/or optimize cover depths. Since Bajo el Durazno area had not been previously studied, the team is developing an analysis of alternatives to carry out detailed engineering of the defined water management works in the future.

Based on these studies, Golder will provide Alumbrera with the detailed design for the works that will enable the capture, canalization, and proper disposal of the runoff from basins contributing to the waste rock areas. Furthermore, the works will address the containment and evaporation of eventual seepage from waste rock facilities. In this way, Golder is supporting Alumbrera Shareholders (Glencore, Newmont and Yamana) to mitigate the risks and liabilities associated with the closed Alumbrera mine.

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