An alternative whole-of-life approach to tailings management

Williams, D. J. (2014). An alternative whole-of-life approach to tailings management. In: Life-of-Mine 2014: Delivering sustainable legacies through integrated life-of-mine planning. Life-of-Mine 2014, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, (285-298). 16-18 July 2014.

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Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
Author Williams, D. J.
Title of paper An alternative whole-of-life approach to tailings management
Conference name Life-of-Mine 2014
Conference location Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Conference dates 16-18 July 2014
Convener David Mulligan
Proceedings title Life-of-Mine 2014: Delivering sustainable legacies through integrated life-of-mine planning
Series The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Publication Series No 4/2014
Place of Publication Carlton, VIC, Australia
Publisher AUSIMM
Publication Year 2014
Sub-type Fully published paper
Open Access Status
ISBN 9781925100082
Start page 285
End page 298
Total pages 14
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Tailings management is typically constrained by many factors that are taken as given. These include the tailings production rate that must be accommodated, the desire to deliver the tailings cheaply and easily as a slurry using centrifugal pumps, and a tailings footprint limited by the desire to minimise capital costs leading to a rapid tailings rate of rise and a low settled density. Other constraints include wall raises being delayed due to limited capital, inadequate tailings water and rainfall run-off management, and the net present value (NPV) approach to capital expenditure that puts off expenditure at the expense of performance. All of these constraints result in the tailings occupying much more volume than is necessary, being difficult to rehabilitate, and not being capable of supporting a beneficial post-mining land use or function. Ultimately, such constrained tailings storage facilities will assume very large dimensions, but each will typically be developed as a series of smaller storages that are filled rapidly and added to progressively. The optimal stage to efficiently recover process water is in the process plant, but this is limited by the desire to use centrifugal pumps rather than the more costly positive displacement pumps, which also require greater management of tailings deposition. Process water can also be recovered from the tailings storage facility (TSF) decant. Tailings water that is not recovered from the plant or the decant will be lost to entrainment within the tailings, seepage to the foundation or through the wall, or evaporation. However, tailings water is not always suitable for reuse in the plant, particularly when it becomes contaminated by the processing, and it may simply be stored on the TSF. This will exacerbate the seepage of contaminated water to the environment, and will limit the densification of the tailings that would otherwise occur due to desiccation of the tailings on exposure. If a larger tailings footprint were developed early, cycling of tailings deposition in thin lifts between a number of cells could occur, maintaining the dormant cells dry to enhance desiccation and densification, and ultimate rehabilitation. The end result would be a much reduced stored volume of tailings, the potential for upstream raising, and ease of rehabilitation to a high level. The higher initial capital cost would be overtaken by reduced ongoing capital, operating and closure costs.
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Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Tue, 24 Mar 2015, 15:17:59 EST by Jeannette Watson on behalf of School of Civil Engineering