Evaluation of the use of thickening for sustainable management of mining tailings

CIM Montreal 2007
Hani Mitri, Masaharu Fukue,
Abstract Mineral extraction leads to waste generation that could impact the land environment and land use. The nature of the ore influences substantially the problems associated with the storage and disposal of wastes. The major objectives of this containment are to avoid pollution and to contain the tailings safely and permanently. Thickening of mine tailings is a relatively new concept for sustainable management of the tailings. Removal of water from the tailings to form a paste instead of slurry disposal decreases environmental and geotechnical concerns. As the use of these pastes is relatively new, their behaviour requires investigation such as liquefaction and seismic stability, freeze-thaw behaviour, consolidation and leachate characterization. Slurry density, ore type, particle size distribution, specific gravity and environmental conditions all can influence paste characteristics. In this paper, the effect of the above-mentioned parameters is examined. New developments in water removal, and additives (such as flocculating agents, cements, organics, fertilizers, etc) leading to low moisture content tailings are reviewed, and the potential for thickening to enable sustainable management of mine tailings are discussed with respect to storage volume requirement, use of virgin land, consolidation of the tailings, land use after decommissioning.
Keywords: Paste, Environmental impact, Heavy Metals, Additives, Waste management, leachate characteristics, Thickening, Tailings, Sustainable development, water removal
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