Open Cut

Tailings Revegetation Project Through “The Vegetative Water Pump”

Open Cut » Environment

Published: November 21Project Number: C27009

Get ReportAuthor: Mike Cole, Carmen Castor, Nathan Setz and Ben Tolosa | CSER Research

This project aimed to greatly reduce the water trapped below the crust of tailings dams by developing a 'Vegetative Water Pump'. The aim was to select plant species mostly natural to the area of the dam to penetrate the crust and pump the water out increasing the solids density in the dam. In doing so it would prevent liquefaction of the crust (caused by vibration or earth tremor) and prevent the potential for slurry formation and flow should a dam wall fail. The species selected were known to have some waterlogging or flooding tolerance. This proved useful because the tailings dam used was often flooded, sometimes for weeks. The flooding limited access to the dam for reasons of personnel safety. However, it also taught us much about the dam and the species used, which assists with a longer-term aim of rehabilitating tailings dams rather than capping them.

Based on performance, including flood tolerance, we selected four primary species: Casuarina glauca Sieber ex Spreng, Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh., Eucalyptus robusta Smith., and Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.). M. quinquenervia became our Model Species.

An unexpected finding was that leaves of three of the primary species used were 'leaky'. That is, they lose water in the light and dark contrary to most terrestrial plants that only lose water during the day when stomata are open. Many wetland plants have hydathodes in their leaves and we did not know this to be true for the species used. Hydathodes are openings in the epidermis seen in three of the primary species used, that are positioned above the ends of minor veins. We believe we have preliminary estimates of their contribution to transpiration at night at about 37% of the total water lost in each 24 hours. They are likely to be a significant contributor in the daytime too.

The project found that plants transpired considerable amounts of water even in dryer times suggesting they had penetrated the crust. The crust was also found to be sinking by about 27cm per year which the transpiration stream may have contributed to.

Model species was calculated to be pumping a total of up to 8GL of water per year if in a group of 1000 plants of the size used in this experiment spread over 10 ha at summer temperatures. Eucalyptus species were found to be even leakier. Thus, dependent on the plant density, the lower levels of a dam below the crust could be made safe in a few years depending on the impacts of rainfall and flooding, as well as successful species selection and survival from surface flooding.


Health and safety, productivity and environment initiatives.

Recently Completed Projects

C27039True Triaxial Strength Of Coal Measure Rocks And Its Impact On Roadway Stability And Coal Burst Assessment

Rocks in the ground are subject to a range of stresses. The stresses...

C3063Underground Vehicle Design Standards And Statutory Implications

The Australian underground diesel vehicle fleet has evolved since di...

C3064Conveyor Belting And Lagging Shear Characteristics - Drive Drum Slip

The primary aim of this project was to investigate the relationsh...


Open Cut

Safety, productivity and the right to operate are priorities for open cut mine research.

Recently Completed Projects

C26029Geological Controls On Fluorine And Phosphorus In Bowen Basin Coals

Increasing global restrictions on fluorine in product coal prompted ...

C27038Establishing Self-Sustaining And Recognisable Ecological Mine Rehabilitation

In recent years an increasing interest has been placed on mining ope...

C27009Tailings Revegetation Project Through “The Vegetative Water Pump”

This project aimed to greatly reduce the water trapped below the cru...

Open Cut

Coal Preparation

Maximising throughput and yield while minimising costs and emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C27064Dry Beneficiation Using FGX And X-Ray Sorters

Conventional dry processing methods engage a single beneficiation de...

C26010Multi-Sloped Screening Efficiency With Changing Strokes, Frequencies, Feed Solids And Feed Rates-Pilot Plant Study

Optimising multi-sloped screens is often described as an art and the...

C28059Impact Of Water Quality In Coal Handling And Preparations Plants

The objective of this project was to deliver a concise reference do...

Coal Preparation

Technical Market Support

Market acceptance and emphasising the advantages of Australian coals.

Technical Market Support

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the production of coal.

Recently Completed Projects

C23052Novel Stone Dust Looping Process For Ventilation Air Methane Abatement

This multi‐phase project is concerned with the mitigation of m...

C27054Optimisation Of A Thermal Flow Reversal Reactor For Ventilation Air Methane Mitigation

Ventilation air methane (VAM) generally accounts for 50-85% of the t...

C28076Selective Absorption Of Methane By Ionic Liquids (SAMIL) - Phase 2 Demonstration In A Packed Bed Reactor

An alternative approach to high temperature oxidation of ventilation...

Mine Site Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Low Emission Coal Use

Step-change technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently Completed Projects

C17060BGasification Of Australian Coals

Four Australian coals were trialled in the Siemens 5 MWth pilot scale ga...

C17060AOxyfuel Technology For Carbon Capture And Storage Critical Clean Coal Technology - Interim Support

The status of oxy-fuel technology for first-generation plant is indicate...

C18007Review Of Underground Coal Gasification

This report consists of a broad review of underground coal gasification,...

Low Emission Coal Use

Mining And The Community

The relationship between mines and the local community.

Recently Completed Projects

C16027Assessing Housing And Labour Market Impacts Of Mining Developments In Bowen Basin Communities

The focus of this ACARP-funded project has been to identify a number...

C22029Understanding And Managing Cumulative Impacts Of Coal Mining And Other Land Uses In Regions With Diversified Economies

The coal industry operates in the context of competing land-uses that sh...

C23016Approval And Planning Assessment Of Black Coal Mines In NSW And Qld: A Review Of Economic Assessment Techniques

This reports on issues surrounding economic assessment and analysis ...

Mining And The Community


National Energy Research,Development & Demonstration Council (NERDDC) reports - pre 1992.

Recently Completed Projects

1609-C1609Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

Self Heating of Spoil Piles from Open Cut Coal Mines

1301-C1301Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development...

Stress Control Methods for Optimised Development and Extraction Operations

0033-C1356Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals...

Commissioned Report: Australian Thermal Coals - An Industry Handbook