Sediment Loss from a Waste Rock Dump, ERA Ranger Mine, Northern Australia



During the 1994/95 wet season, runoff, suspended load and bedload loss from large scale erosion plots under natural rainfall events were measured at three sites with different treatments on the Energy Resources of Australia Ranger waste rock dump (cap, soil, fire). The fire site has well established trees, the soil site smaller shrubs and the cap site minimal vegetation. All three sites are located on the flat areas of the waste rock dump with similar slopes and cap, fire and soil are local names for the sites. The quantity of bedload eroded from the soil and fire sites decreased during the monitoring period, however, the same trend was not observed on the cap site. Bedload loss from the fire and soil sites is significantly log-linear with time and reduces at a decreasing rate until becoming statistically constant toward the later part of the first half of the wet season. For corresponding storms at each site, bedload erosion was highest from the unvegetated and unripped cap site and lowest from the well vegetated fire site. Site specific linear relationships between bedload and total sediment load have been derived and can be used to derive total sediment load in the absence of measured suspended load.