Gowan, M, Lee, M & Williams, DJ 2010, 'Co-disposal techniques that may mitigate risks associated with storage and management of potentially acid generating wastes', in R Jewell & AB Fourie (eds), Proceedings of the First International Seminar on the Reduction of Risk in the Management of Tailings and Mine Waste
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 389-404.
A mine tailings disposal facility (TSF) remains a major source of risk for a mining operation. It is in reality
the only structure on the mine, together with mine waste dumps, that has to “last forever” after the mining
operation ceases. While the normal method of tailings disposal into a TSF is well understood and widely
practiced, the alternative methods available using co-disposal may provide significant advantages for
mining operations with particular issues or problems.
Constraints on mining such as reduced or limited water supply, the need to recycle more water, higher water
quality discharge requirements and post closure risks, are encouraging mine planners to consider
alternatives to the traditional methods of mine waste management. One of the options available to planners
and operators is the co-disposal of tailings and waste rock, particularly if potentially acid forming, for safer
In this paper, the general types of mine waste storage facilities (e.g. valley, paddock and in-pit storages) and
the nature of tailings and waste rock are described, and co-disposal (and co-mingling) techniques to reduce
the risks associated with the storage and management of wastes are discussed. The potential benefits of these
techniques during operation and mine closure are described.