Methods for the disposal and storage of mine tailings
Darron W. Dixon-Hardy and Jon M. Engels

Tailings storage facilities vary considerably in size, design, complexity and method of operation. These key factors are essentially influenced and controlled by regulatory bodies and company policies. In some countries, tailings storage is overlooked by regulators and, not surprisingly, accidents and failures occur. Poor design and inadequate operational management are the two major underlying causes of nearly all tailings impoundment failures. The challenges associated with tailings storage are complex for a number of reasons. The properties of tailings and the environment in which they are stored are almost entirely unique to a particular mine and its methods of mineral processing. This review details the types of waste that are regarded as tailings, how they are generated and how they are incorporated into a tailings storage facility. It discusses the various options open to a mine operator for tailings storage; highlights the key challenges associated with tailings storage; the technologies used today to reduce risk and environmental impact, and the complexity of their design and operation.

Key words: design and operation, impoundment failures, mine waste, tailings management facilities

Land Contamination & Reclamation, 15 (3), 301-317 (2007)

DOI 10.2462/09670513.832

© 2007 EPP Publications Ltd

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Article code 832