Authors: Verburg, R

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DOI https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1063_20_Verburg

Cite As:
Verburg, R 2010, 'Potential environmental benefits of surface paste disposal', in R Jewell & AB Fourie (eds), Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 231-240, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1063_20_Verburg

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Abstract:
In most countries in the world today, disposal of tailings in traditional form (i.e. as a slurry) has come under increasing scrutiny due to the perceived risks associated with environmental impacts and dam safety. Pressures for change come from the many stakeholders that are involved with the development and operation of a mine, including decision-makers in the mining company, shareholders, auditors and reviewers, lending agencies and financial institutions, insurers, regulators, the local communities, and NGOs. These pressures are forcing the mining industry to seek innovative alternatives for disposal of tailings that will incorporate less risk and address the rising environmental and social concerns. The current trends are to reduce or even eliminate ponded water on top of tailings and to thicken tailings to facilitate alternative disposal configurations. Paste tailings have many potential environmental, economic and social benefits. This paper presents and discusses potential environmental benefits of surface paste disposal, such as the reduction in seepage volumes and contaminant migration. Also, this paper will address the potential advantages of paste with respect to increased chemical stability, including prevention of sulphide oxidation and acid generation. These benefits will be illustrated using case histories, in particular the ongoing studies in paste behaviour at Somincor’s Neves Corvo Mine in southern Portugal. The case studies demonstrate that disposal of high-pyrite tailings in the form of paste represents a feasible option, with proper cover design being a critical component of the placement and closure strategy.

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