DESIGNING SELF-SUSTAINING TAILINGS MANAGEMENT FACILITIES: A CASE STUDY FROM SILVERMINES REHABILITATION PROJECT, COUNTY TIPPERARY, IRELAND

World Mining Congress
The Silvermines area of north County Tipperary in Ireland has experienced mining activity for over a thousand years, with lead, zinc, copper, barite and sulphur being extracted from a series of Carboniferous limestones. The last mine to operate in the area was closed in 1993. A legacy of contamination and derelict surface structures remain. Following the death of cattle in the vicinity in 1999, a governmental Inter-Agency Group was established to conduct an investigation. The ‘Silvermines Rehabilitation Project’ resulted, and included a proposal for the development of a Mine Waste Management Facility (MWMF) to act as a repository for waste materials from problematic sites across the area. The nature of the setting supported an effective solution from both a cost and performance perspective; and with limited maintenance requirements. Locating the MWMF where most wastes were identified would help minimise handling and relocation of materials. This position coincided with an area of artesian groundwater pressures. The resulting MWMF design consisted of a perimeter engineered embankment with the crest elevation designed to just exceed the groundwater piezometric surface. The base would remain unlined and groundwater permitted to rise up into and saturate the contained in-situ tailings deposits and imported mine wastes.
Keywords: tailings; Groundwater; Groundwaters; metals; Drainage; Systems; Concentration; flow; Design;
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