e Silva Marques, M & Pérez, FA 2013, 'Trends in mine tailings disposal from a global perspective and in Brazil', in R Jewell, AB Fourie, J Caldwell & J Pimenta (eds), Proceedings of the 16th International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 605-613, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1363_47_Marques
Globally, mining environmental regulators are under increasing pressure to apply restrictions to both existing and proposed mining operations. The ability to profitably exploit large very low-grade resources once thought to be uneconomic through increased efficiencies and economies of scale demands new solutions in every area of the operation. The scale of mining operations has increased tenfold during the last 30 years, with similarly increased requirements for disposal of large tonnages of tailings and waste rock. As a consequence, the mining industry needs to search for greatly improved long-term solutions for tailings, rock, and water management to meet the existing and future operational, environmental, technical, financial, risk, and social constraints.
One area of innovation that is in continuous development is in the application of advanced dewatering technologies to produce non-segregating tailings slurry, ultra-dense, paste, or filtered tailings for disposal under a range of scenarios. The application of such technologies can contribute to reduced energy demands and lower ancillary equipment costs associated with the movement and storage of low density tailings slurry. Other advantages include reduced water use and water retention, reduced seepage, lower land usage for tailings storage, etc, which translate to reduced environmental liabilities. This objective is critical in terms of the sustainability of the mining industry and its perception by society at large.
What is the status of these technologies in Brazil? For many years, the Brazilian mining industry has investigated surface disposal and underground mine backfill using thickened tailings products. However, except in the case of Caraiba, where Golder developed a backfill project more than 10 years ago, other applications have not been documented.
This paper provides an update and a description of the current practices and studies conducted for mine waste management by Golder in Brazil. It describes the technology used and discusses the challenges resulting from site topographies, significant variability in wet and dry season climatic conditions, and advantages to be gained by adopting such solutions for tailings management.