Mine waste and tailings management: a case study of Ashanti Goldfields, Bibiani Limited

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Ashanti Goldfields, Bibiani, Limited (AGBL) has been operating an open pit mine at Bibiani, in the Western Region of Ghana, since 1997. By its nature as a surface mine, AGBL generates a considerable tonnage of overburden, waste rock and tailings for permanent disposal. Thus, one major problem of the mine is the handling and relocation of the large quantities of mine wastes generated. Since mining is a temporal use of land, it is important that consideration be given to post mining land use. A mine waste and tailings management plan therefore constitutes an important mitigation measure against adverse environmental challenges of the mine’s waste dumps and tailings impoundment. This thesis therefore seeks to identify and assess the potential impacts of mine waste and tailings disposal and prescribe appropriate measures to eliminate or minimise the impacts. The wastes management of the company over the period 1997 to 2001 was studied in order to assess the strategies taken by Ashanti Goldfields, Bibiani, Limited to manage the mine’s waste rock and tailings effectively. The major environmental problem that requires particular care for protecting the environment is the periodic pollution of water by high levels of arsenic and dissolved iron in the Mensin River and its tributaries, the Mpokwampah and Amponsah streams, which drain the concession. Indicative management schemes have been provided to ameliorate the adverse environmental effects derived from these high levels of arsenic and dissolved iron in the Mensin River and the downstream surface waters.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Mining Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Master of Science in Mining Engineering, 2003