Tomago Mineral Sands Mining Project

Stephen Jones, Principal, Douglas Partners Pty Ltd

This project was recently acknowledged by the Association of Consulting Engineers Australia (ACEA) in their Engineering Excellence Awards for 1999. For the past 20 years Douglas Partners have been advisors the water authority (initially HWC, and subsequently DLWC) in monitoring the effects of mineral sands mining on the Tomago Sandbeds aquifer. The Sandbeds are also a major source of potable water for the Newcastle region.

The project is believed to be the longest running continuing environmental consultancy in Australia, with Project Manager Stephen Jones having been involved in the project for the entire 20 years. Stephen will discuss the use of the Sandbeds for two competing resources: drinking water and mineral sands (mainly rutile and zircon). The project has seen many changes in technology and mining practices. The history of mining activities and the geochemical effects of mining on the groundwater quality will be presented.

Mining finished in late 1998, and decommissioning of the mine site and separation mill is nearing completion. A post mining monitoring regime has been established for both groundwater and revegetation, in order to ensure a satisfactory environmental outcome, and monitoring will continue for several years to come.

Engineers Australia members participating in AGS technical sessions can record attendance on their personal CPD logs. Members should refer to Engineers Australia CPD policy for details on CPD types, requirements and auditing guidelines.