Modelling and Assessment of the Long-term Leachate Generation Potential in Deposits of Ferro-chromium Slags

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Journal of The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

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The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy


University of Cape Town

The environmental impact of solid waste materials is closely linked to their potential to produce a hazardous leachate once deposited in a landfill. This potential is conventionally assessed with simple laboratory batch leach tests, which find more and more frequent application also in the minerals and metals industry. Such tests are intended to help distinguish between high and low risk wastes, but are completely unsuitable to allow quantitative prediction or modelling of the long-term leachate generation potential. In the present approach the leachate generation process is perceived as a combination of bulk convective transport, stagnant zone and inner particle diffusion, as well as reaction kinetic effects. Model equations are formulated accordingly. A modelling framework, WASTESIM, has been developed at UCT, which allows flexible combination of the model components and simulation of leach scenarios. Quantitative model parameters are obtained from a systematic laboratory study on the waste material in question. The combined assessment and modelling approach is demonstrated with a study on Cr(VI) leaching from a ferro-chromium slag material. Although not straightforward, the approach is particularly useful in determining long-term liabilities in the context of waste disposal sites with considerably more reliability than has previously been possible. Keywords: waste deposits, waste leaching, heap leaching, environmental, risk assessment, Cr(VI), ferro-chromium, slag.