Botham, L & Johnson, J 2018, 'Mexican iron ore mine – surface paste tailings system development: a case study', in RJ Jewell & AB Fourie (eds), Proceedings of the 21st International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 43-52.
The mine site is a historic location with operations dating back to 1828. The community and the mine have grown side by side, with the city, including critical infrastructure, almost surrounding the mine. As a water conservation measure, the mine currently treats sewage from the community, with reclaimed water used in ore processing. The available land for tailings disposal is competing with the growth of the population, agricultural uses and other industries in the area.
The mine currently produces approximately 1 M t per year. The site recently opened a new tailings pond (TSF-2), adjacent to the main pond (TSF-1) and mine, and is temporally depositing the slurry tailings stream in TSF-2. Supernatant water from TSF-2 is recycled back to the process plant for reuse.
To optimise the storage capacity of TSF-2, and to maximise water reclaim, a surface stack system was selected. A paste team of WesTech, Clifton, and Paterson and Cooke was assembled to provide a design for the system (Johnson & Slottee 2004). The paste system plan is to transition TSF-2 to a surface stack and open a new site (TSF-3) approximately 1.5 km to the north. Both sites are adjacent to the current workings and bordering the neighbouring farm lands and residential areas of the city.
This paper provides the selection of the deposition design, the paste thickener to produce the nonNewtonian tailings stream, transportation to the sites and placement strategy in the facilities.
Keywords: surface stack, site management, paste and thickened tailings
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Johnson, JL & Slottee, SJ 2004, ‘Paste technology: success is in the approach’, Proceedings of the Eleventh Tailings and Mine Waste Conference, A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 305–311.