Fine rejects from coal washing have been trialled to commence regular backfilling of underground mine voids with the aim to reduce surface impacts within Sydney's water catchments. These concentrated fines contain naturally-occurring contaminants which will, over time, leach into aquifers, creeks and rivers. Research with advanced UNSW analytical technologies (e.g. geotechnical centrifuge) would enable quantification of multi-decadal leaching and geochemical fundamentals under in-situ conditions for the first time. Improved leach tests for naturally occurring contaminants (eg. arsenic, zinc, selenium, uranium) will enable attenuation of these contaminants within iron and carbonate precipitates, ultimately leading to better protection of sensitive fresh waters.
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Civil and Environmental Engineering