Tailings Management in South America

Symposium 2015 Rouyn-Noranda
Mr Terry Eldridge (Principal, Waste Management Practice Leader - South America - Golder Associates Ltd)
South America is a diverse region and development of a successful tailings management strategy must consider the unique characteristics of the project and the site. This paper presents some information on the diversity of the challenges that are faced across the continent and shows that there is not a unique strategy that can be applied to all projects. The range of site characteristics and project considerations include:
• Annual rainfall of 1 mm in the Atacama Desert to 5000 mm in Panama
• Design earthquake accelerations from near zero in Brazil to 0.6 g along the Pacific coast
• Plains with almost no relief in Brazil to steep sided, high altitude valleys along the Andes Mountains
• Residual soils to glaciated terrains with permafrost
• Rainforest ecosystems to deserts with no vegetation
• Urban areas with well trained work forces to remote, subsistence agricultural areas with poorly educated populations
• Well developed infrastructure to no infrastructure
• Mining history and legacy environmental issues
• Project scale from 1000 tpd underground operations to 240 ktpd open pit operations, and
• Single projects in new areas to large, new projects in heavily developed regions that must consider cumulative effects and competition for water, energy and workers.
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