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Standard practice is to place waste materials in close proximity to where they are produced, with little
consideration being given to the long-term viability of the landforms being built using this excavated waste.
Landforms acceptable to the community at closure are generally those that are not dissimilar, in shape and
in scale to the naturally occurring hills of the region.
This paper considers what happens to the landforms constructed of excavated waste and tailings after they
have been stacked, describes the forces that affect them and demonstrates how sympathetic engineering can
accelerate the transformation of waste dumps into hills.
The forces include weathering (chemical alteration and mechanical and biological breakdown of rock
forming minerals) and erosion. The main agents of erosion are rainfall and wind, which complement
weathering by removing materials from one location and transporting them to another.
Waste management in individual mining operations will always be primarily driven by the requirement to
minimise operating costs, but the long-term cost of not designing waste landforms for long-term stability
could far outweigh the short-term cost benefits. Understanding the natural forces that will impact the waste
landforms and designing the landforms with those forces in mind will enable companies to optimise the
operating and long-term maintenance costs while constructing stable landforms.
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Rock Dumps 2008, Perth, Australia 275