Authors: Copeland, AM; Lyell, KA; van Greunen, P


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Copeland, AM, Lyell, KA & van Greunen, P 2006, 'Disposal of Belt Filtered Tailings – Skorpion Zinc Case Study: Feasibility, Design and Early Operation', in R Jewell, S Lawson & P Newman (eds), Paste 2006: Proceedings of the Ninth International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 243-254,

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Skorpion Zinc Mine comprises an opencast mine and refinery and is located in the south west of Namibia in a very arid area, with desert sand dunes to the west and rugged mountains to the east. The refinery began operating in mid 2003 treating an oxide orebody to recover zinc by means of a leaching, solvent extraction and electro-winning process. The tailings produced from the leaching process is belt filtered to recover soluble zinc, justifying the expense of filtration. The filter cake is a fine grained material with significant clay and mica fractions and has a high average moisture content of 40% (water mass/total mass). While filtration achieved key objectives of recovering soluble zinc contained in residue and minimising water consumption, the transportation and disposal of the tailings posed technical challenges. This case study aims to cover a 7 year period including the feasibility study, design and early operating period, highlighting issues and decisions associated with each phase of the project.

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