The Diavik Waste Rock Project consists of laboratory and field experiments developed for the investigation and scale-up of the geochemical evolution of sulfidic mine wastes. As part of this project, humidity cell experiments were conducted to assess the long-term geochemical evolution of a low-sulfide waste rock. Reactive transport modelling was used to assess the significant geochemical processes controlling oxidation of sulfide minerals and their dependence on temperature and sulfide mineral content. The geochemical evolution of effluent from waste rock with a sulfide content of 0.16 wt.% and 0.02 wt.% in humidity cells was simulated with the reactive transport model MIN3P, based on a conceptual model that included constant water flow, sulfide mineral content, sulfide oxidation controlled by the availability of oxidants, and subsequent neutralization reactions with carbonate and aluminosilicate minerals. Concentrations of Ni, Co, Cu, Zn, and SO4 in the humidity cell effluent were simulated using the shrinking core model, which represented the control of oxidant diffusion to the unreacted particle surface in the sulfide oxidation process. The influence of temperature was accounted for using the Arrhenius relation and appropriate activation energy values. Comparison of the experiment results, consisting of waste rock differentiated by sulfide mineral content and temperature, indicated surface area and temperature play important roles in rates of sulfide oxidation and release of sulfate and metals. After the model was calibrated to fit the effluent data from the higher sulfide content cells, subsequent simulations were conducted by adjusting only measured parameters, including sulfide mineral content and surface area.

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Keywords Reactive transport, Scale-up, Shrinking core model, Sulfide oxidation
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Journal Applied Geochemistry
Wilson, D. (David), Amos, R, Blowes, D.W. (David W.), Langman, J.B. (Jeff B.), Ptacek, C.J. (Carol J.), Smith, L. (Leslie), & Sego, D.C. (David C.). (2018). Diavik waste rock project: A conceptual model for temperature and sulfide-content dependent geochemical evolution of waste rock – Laboratory scale. Applied Geochemistry, 89, 160–172. doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2017.12.007