Authors: Laberge, SL; Kolstad, DC; Dehler, WG; Kalmes, AR

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Laberge, SL, Kolstad, DC, Dehler, WG & Kalmes, AR 2023, 'Evolution of closure planning for an inactive tailings facility', in B Abbasi, J Parshley, A Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Mine Closure 2023: Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth,

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Sustainable mine closure requires meeting physical, chemical, ecological, and social objectives. Sometimes, these objectives conflict with one another and pose challenges to mine-closure planning. This paper summarizes the key considerations for closure of a tailings facility with emphasis on recent Canadian Dam Association (CDA) and International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) guidance. It addresses movement and drying of saturated tailings; closure; final site grading; and water management. The paper also discusses how the approach to closure, landform design, and reclamation of an inactive tailings facility has evolved since initial closure planning began, incorporating institutional knowledge and best practices in dam safety and integrated mine closure. A robust closure plan requires winnowing the options to the most attractive solution and applying a multi-staged approach to closure—one that recognizes environmental stewardship is more than just minimizing potential impacts. A brief case study of an in-progress decommissioning and closure project discusses how these principles are being applied. The case study also introduces the potential for economic benefit and resource gain for the surrounding communities through agricultural or natural-end land uses that will be considered as the design advances. The example demonstrates the benefit of reaching tailings dam sustainability goals that prioritize safety and environmental stewardship.

Keywords: mine closure, reclamation, tailings, sustainability, landform design

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