Volume 44, N. 3

Special Issue: Unsaturated Soils (Invited Editors: T.M.P. Campos, F.A.M. Marinho, G.F.N. Gitirana Jr.), July-September, 2021

The new expertise required for designing safe tailings storage facilities

Article

Volume 44, N. 3, Special Issue: Unsaturated Soils (Invited Editors: T.M.P. Campos, F.A.M. Marinho, G.F.N. Gitirana Jr.), July-September, 2021 | PDF (14 downloads)

Abstract

The global mining community has seen a dangerous sequence of failures in tailings dams, beginning with Mount Polley mine, followed by the Samarco, Cadia Valley and Córrego do Feijão mines. This sequence of failures began on August 4, 2014, at the Mount Polley tailings storage facility in British Columbia, Canada. The initial failure in the embankment at the Mount Polley tailings storage facility had substantial impact on the global mining industry. The Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Panel (IEEIRP) tasked with the investigation of the breach in the tailings dam at Mount Polley made major contributions for new guidelines. The incident has given rise to comprehensive recommendations for best available tailings technologies (BAT) based on principles such as the elimination of surface water from impoundments with the promotion of unsaturated conditions in the tailings through drainage provisions. The application of these BAT principles for the surface storage of tailings leads to the use of filtered tailings technology. Filtered tailings technology or “dry stack tailings” can satisfy each of the BAT components when the impoundment is properly designed and constructed. The implementation of the best available technologies for the physical stability (BAT-PS) of tailings impoundments competes directly with the best available technologies for the chemical stability (BAT-CS) of reactive tailings that may produce acid and metalliferous drainage. The new expertise in mine waste management required to achieve both BAT-PS and BAT-CS are discussed in the present paper.

Keywords: Filtered tailings, Dry stack tailings, Design, Mine waste management,


Submitted on June 25, 2021.
Final Acceptance on August 25, 2021.
Discussion open until November 30, 2021.
DOI: 10.28927/SR.2021.067521