A feasibility study on the use of desulphurized tailings to control acid mine drainage

Abstract Environmental desulphurization is an attractive alternative for the management of acid generating tailings. Sulphide bulk flotation is the most commonly used method to produce desulphurized tailings, as shown from many previous works. This process can reduce the volume of problematic tailings to manage by making a sulphide fraction concentrate. The desulphurized tailings can then be used as construction material for an engineered cover to prevent acid mine drainage.
Results from different laboratory and pilot-scale flotation tests are presented in this paper confirming that low-sulphide, non-acid generating tailings can be produced by froth flotation. This paper also demonstrates that sulphide concentrates obtained from desulphurization, mixed with the appropriate binders, can be used as feed material for paste backfill. From previous work on the evaluation of operating and capital costs of the desulphurization process for different ore types, the use of desulphurization as a tailings management approach was studied for several scenarios. The desulphurization process was then compared with other technologies (underwater disposal and engineered soil cover) currently used to prevent acid drainage (AD) for a new mining operation.
Results show that partial or complete desulphurization is a technically and economically viable option to manage tailings during mine operation. Mine waste managers should consider desulphurization as an efficient technology.
Considering that the models and design hypotheses used for this study are representative of the majority of existing sites and can be applied to future mining projects, the results from this study show that:

Partial desulphurization of tailings presents savings opportunities especially when the tailings pond location is characterized by flat terrain and a soft foundation, a situation that increases the dam construction cost.
Underwater disposal is the most economical option, when topography of the site and foundation conditions are favourable. However, the cost difference between this option and the partial desulphurization option is very small, especially for tailings with low neutralization potentials.
The construction cost of dry cover with capillary barrier effect (CCBE) can vary significantly from one site to another, depending on the proximity of construction materials.
Complete desulphurization of tailings remains a viable economic option when it becomes expensive to build low-permeability tailings dams.
There is a wide range of field conditions where the four different scenarios are comparable from an economic point of view.

The desulphurization techniques, particularly when combined with paste backfill, should be considered as an integrated management technique throughout the mine life that will facilitate rehabilitation at the end of mine life. Desulphurization may facilitate permitting for new mine projects, particularly in regions with restrictive environmental regulations.
The comparison of tailings management methods presented in this paper is based solely on economic considerations. Risk aspects and long-term liabilities were not taken into account. This study opens the door for further work on risk analysis, life cycle analysis, and development of better integration between the upstream metallurgical process for value recovery and the downstream desulphurization process for environmental purposes.
Keywords: Desulphurized tailings, Acid mine drainage, Dry cover, Water covers, Paste backfill.
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Summary: Traditional planning of mines and scheduling of production is largely based upon the modelling of ore grade. It is known, however, that grade is not the only characteristic that can be taken into account to maximize performance at the processing plant and efficiency of tailings disposal. Ore processing plants respond well to feed that is consistent over time and that has known physico-chemical characteristics, which can be used to improve plant design and performance through the management of...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): A. Richmond, R. Dimitrakopoulos
Keywords: Stochastic spatial simulation, Ore texture, Ore reserves.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: Over the last few years, a number of research projects to prove out the concept of applying fuel cell technology to underground mining vehicles have been managed by Vehicle Projects LLC for the Fuelcell Propulsion Institute. These have been carried out with the support of mining companies, trade unions, regulatory agencies, equipment manufacturers, research laboratories, technology developers, universities, and consultants.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is clean and produces only water and...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): M.C. Bétournay, P. Laliberté, R. Lacroix, C. Kocsis, S. Hardcastle, G. Desrivières, P. Mousset-Jones, G. Righettini
Keywords: Fuel cell, Diesel, Costs, Benefits
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: The 20th century saw changes in the mining and metallurgical industry not only technically but also in social and environmental expectations. As projects become larger their visibility raises concerns among communities of interest, and mining companies must adopt a transparent and open approach to assure success. An equally important task is to anticipate the standards that will be required to meet expectations.
Early mines left waste and spoil piles around the surface and the images of...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): D.J. Kemp
Keywords: Sustainable standards, Sustainable development, Environmental awareness, Corporate attitudes, Community attitudes.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: In 1997, a group of Canadian mining companies met to review the Mine Environment Neutral Drainage (MEND) program and to consider future activities. They concluded that Canadian industry and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) should fund a small secretariat in Ottawa to support technology transfer in Canada, and that it was important for industry to continue the momentum of MEND on an international scale.
The need for the International Network for Acid Prevention (INAP) was strongly endorsed by...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): R. Gallinger, B. Kelley
Keywords: International Network for Acid Prevention,Waste management, Acid drainage.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: The world’s first hydrogen fuel cell locomotive was successfully demonstrated at the Placer Dome Campbell Mine in Balmertown, Ontario. This demonstration was a success based on the following criteria:

safely demonstrated the operation of a hydrogen-powered fuel cell locomotive in a production situation;
determined the regulatory and operational requirements for future fuel cell mining equipment;
determined technical and soft issues critical for future fuel cell applications; and
determined...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): F.C. Delabbio, D. Eastick, C. Graves, D. Sprott, T. MacKinnon, M.C. Bétournay
Keywords: Fuel cell, Risk management, Regulatory compliance, Campbell Mine.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
Text
Summary: The Las Cristinas deposit in Venezuela contains proven and probable reserves of 12.8 million ounces of gold at a grade of 1.20 g/t. The deposit comprises fully oxidized saprolite (SAPO) overlying a layer of sulphide-enriched saprolite (SAPS) which lies above carbonate- leached bedrock (CLB) and carbonate stable or un-leached bedrock (CSB). Gold occurs at a similar concentration in all lithological units.
Virtually all of the copper originally in SAPO has been leached out and deposited in the...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): J.R. Goode, K.G. Thomas
Keywords: Las Cristinas, Gold, Saprolite, Gravity, Leaching, CIL, Thickening, Rheology, Natural degradation, Cyanide destruction, Plant design.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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