Authors: Watson, AH; Corser, PG; Garces Pardo, EE; Lopez Christian, TE; Vandekeybus, J


Cite As:
Watson, AH, Corser, PG, Garces Pardo, EE, Lopez Christian, TE & Vandekeybus, J 2010, 'A comparison of alternative tailings disposal methods — the promises and realities', 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. 499-514.

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Abstract:
Despite technological advances in mineral processing, mining companies still face challenges in how to best manage tailings materials. In addition, mining of lower grades of ore has resulted in increased water use per unit of production; at certain sites, water availability is the single greatest constraint on mine development. In some cases, alternative tailings disposal (ATD) has been viewed as a ‘silver bullet’ that will address all tailings management issues, especially water concerns. In addition, in some cases ATD technologies also promise a smaller footprint and reduced environmental impact and risks. This paper looks at the promise and realities of ATD methods and will provide high-level guidance on when to use individual technologies and where conventional wet disposal is still the preferred method. The various tailings disposal types presented are filtered, paste, thickened, and conventional disposal. Energy supply, climate, production rates, project economics, operational predictability, topography, seismicity, and water are used to frame the benefits and limiting factors behind each ATD method. Recommendations on when to use each disposal method are made.

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