Authors: Kam, S; Yaschyshyn, D; Hmidi, N


DOI https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1504_42_Kam

Cite As:
Kam, S, Yaschyshyn, D & Hmidi, N 2015, 'Managing high-density tailings disposal – deposition, water management and closure considerations', in R Jewell & AB Fourie (eds), Proceedings of the 18th International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 547-559, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1504_42_Kam

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Abstract:
There has been a growing interest in the surface disposal of high-density tailings in recent years. Such an interest is driven primarily by the need to conduct mining in a sustainable manner by minimising environmental and social impact, conserving water and improving tailings safety. Increasingly, more mines are considering thickened or paste tailings disposal in conjunction with paste tailings backfill to better utilise their infrastructure. Several factors have hindered the wider adoption of high-density surface tailings disposal technology. The ability to predict tailings behaviour in full scale is still relatively limited. There is also little experience in managing a high-density tailings facility under varied climatic conditions. A number of high capacity mines have also had production issues meeting the tailings consistency criterion for deposition leading to major reconfiguration of the disposal system due to poor field performance. Some of these uncertainties are being addressed through laboratory and field research with significant advances being made on our understanding on tailings rheology, transportation, mechanism of deposition and post deposition behaviour change of the tailings. High-density tailings facilities will require a greater degree of management than conventional slurry tailings. Not only are the tailings likely more variable, there are unique challenges associated with tailings deposition and water management. This paper discusses tailings deposition control and water management methods that have been successfully used at a number of high-density tailings facilities with special reference made to central cone deposition in the Kidd Metallurgical Site and perimeter deposition at the Musselwhite Mine. Both of these facilities are located in cold climatic regions in Canada with surplus precipitation. Contingency measures that have been adopted to reduce the risk of system upsets and non-performance, and closure considerations for these facilities are highlighted. Field experience has shown that high-density tailings disposal can offer unique opportunities for progressive rehabilitation and optimisation of the closure design.

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