The subject of the research is one of the largest World’s mine tailings disposal sites, i.e. Żelazny Most in the Legnica-Głogów Copper Mining District (south-western Poland), where flotation tailings are poured out after copper ore treatment. The protective hydraulic barrier made of 46 vertical drainage wells was characterized and evaluated in view of reduction of major contaminants (Cl, Na, SO4, Ca) migrating from the facility to its foreground. The efficiency of groundwater protection was determined on the basis of a new approach. In applied method the loads of characteristic and commonly recognizable compounds, i.e. salt (NaCl) and gypsum (CaSO4) were calculated, instead their chemical components. The temporal and spatial variability of captured main contaminants loads as well as its causes are discussed. The paper ends with the results of efficiency analyses of the barrier and with respect to the predicted increase in contaminant concentrations in the pulp poured out to the tailings site.