• To participate in the 911Metallurgist Forums, be sure to JOINLOGIN
  • Use Add New Topic to ask a New Question/Discussion about Thickening, Filtering or Tailings and Water.
  • OR Select a Topic that Interests you.
  • Use Add Reply = to Reply/Participate in a Topic/Discussion (most frequent).
    Using Add Reply allows you to Attach Images or PDF files and provide a more complete input.
  • Use Add Comment = to comment on someone else’s Reply in an already active Topic/Discussion.

Mine Tailing Storage Dam Design (22 replies)

Helena Russell
10 months ago
Helena Russell 10 months ago

The mine at work at has asked me what do I need to design tailing storage dam? Not sure where to start. This is a very complex issue. Perhaps start with an experienced Geotechnical Engineer. What else?

I feel I should not be given the job, if i need to ask...

Bill Fraser
10 months ago
Bill Fraser 10 months ago

There are several large books available on this topic, going into anything but starting points is difficult, but as a minimum, to just get started, you need:

1) volume of tailings you expect to have, by day, week, month, year, life of mine.

2) the characteristics of the tailings; size distribution, moisture content, any toxic substances,

3) how you plan to transport the tailings to the storage area

4) will the tailings change over time (get wetter/dryer)

5) will you be reprocessing the tailings in the future or even think that you might

And then you need to consider where you will be storing them, all of which are very site specific. As said above and by others, if you are even thinking about this, get professional help. It is a very complex and difficult area that can make the rest of the mining process simple in comparison.

Bob Mathias
10 months ago
Bob Mathias 10 months ago

You did not say if the tailings would be dry or wet. For my two cents worth I recommend that you allocate resources for analytical capability so you know what is in any stored legacy water. You do not want a Samarco situation to develop.

David Kano
10 months ago
David Kano 10 months ago

I may be of help to you, how much chemical do you have in the water?

Paul Morrow
10 months ago
Paul Morrow 10 months ago

The Australian government has put out a great "Leading Practice" booklet on Tailings Management which provides a good overview of TSF design, management and rehabilitation. http://www.industry.gov.au/resource/Documents/LPSDP/LPSDP-TailingsHandbook.pdf

from an environmental point of view it is great when TSFs can be avoided (or minimised) by filling existing pits or reusing as underground fill (pastefill).

The issue of storing wet tailings is critical and very topical. "Dewatering" tailings by thickening prior to deposition or recovering water from the facility is very important for above ground storage facilities.

An example of a TSF Design Report can be found here (for BHPB's Olympic Dam Expansion Project)


Tony Verdeschi
10 months ago
Tony Verdeschi 10 months ago

At first a detailed geological/environmental description of proposed site and surroundings, including hydro-climate data, and all available process clues to assess water management and tailings characteristics. Then you would certainly be able to get a first idea on pre-feasibility based on a risk evaluation, enough to prepare a site investigation program and possible further lab tests that will provide you with the basic data you need to properly design the facility. Sorry, there is no 3D mathematical model on shelf for that purpose, as the only one that proved to be reliable is just analogical, namely "the house of cards". Have a look at the chronology of events below for more details. http://www.wise-uranium.org/mdaf.html

Also see http://www3.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/industrial/special/mining/techdocs/tailings.pdf

Alan Carter
10 months ago
Alan Carter 10 months ago

ANCOLD has publications available for purchase.

Maya Rothman
10 months ago
Maya Rothman 10 months ago

You need first to study the rheology of the tailings. Meaning size, clay content etc. etc. to decide what kind of tailings you are going to storage, then design the TSF.

Victor Bergman
10 months ago
Victor Bergman 10 months ago

You should also seriously look at dry stacking. It is the alternative to the traditional TSF with filtered solids being laid out on the ground. The solids cannot be fluidized by an earthquake and there is no expensive tailings dam to fail as happens far too often worldwide. The cost is lower to start and higher to operate. In dry climates it saves more than that cost in water that would have evaporated.

An in-between approach is paste stacking where thickened tailings will hold their shape when extruded on the ground. This also save water, but less. Both solids can be strengthened by adding cement prior to placement. After a month they can support vehicles.

John Koenig
10 months ago
John Koenig 10 months ago

I would hope that any regulatory agency in Australia would refuse to approve TSF designs by any person(s) who don't have significant proven experience in this area! The risks and hazards are too high.

Dizzy Flores
10 months ago
Dizzy Flores 10 months ago

You need advice from appropriately qualified and experienced professionals who specialise in tailings facility design. I recommend Golder Associates for this job. They have offices all over the world. http://www.golder.com

Carmen Ibanz
10 months ago
Carmen Ibanz 10 months ago

As well as Golders, Klohn Crippen Berger and Knight Piesold also have good people and experience. But like all consultancies - you want the "A" team on your job.

Good historical rainfall data will be invaluable for determining water balance issues and risks, and you will find to be part of a good engineering assessment of design & build requirements.

Ace Levy
10 months ago
Ace Levy 10 months ago

You should know the following

- chemical and physical characteristics of the tailing

- applicable regulations- different environmental authorities have different requirements

- site characterizations, soil, underground water, wind, precipitation, evaporation etc.

and then a good civil engineer to design to the above parameters.

Bill Rico
10 months ago
Bill Rico 10 months ago

You should not forget to study as many reports on TSF failures as possible!

Here’s a summary from my Economic Geology book with some useful papers: “Tailings are fine-grained residues of ore dressing. The majority are pumped as a liquid slurry into tailings storage facilities, bounded by a dam, and are left to dry by seepage and evaporation. Consequent physical hazards include dam breaks, landslides and mudflows, in most cases triggered by exceptionally heavy rains. Past accidents caused loss of human lives and property, and wide-spread contamination in the environment. Flotation tailings consist of gangue and by-breaking host rock of the ore. They are typically very fine-grained (20-150 micron); mixed with water, the silt-like material is liquid and forms destructive mud-flows (Ritcey 1990). Failure of tailings storage facilities occurred in the base metal mine Los Frailes in the South Iberian Pyrite Belt (April 1998: Ollas et al. 2005) and near Baia Mare in Romania during rew.

Marshal Meru
10 months ago
Marshal Meru 10 months ago

Tailing and Dam storage of toxic waste was very old technology. In my new 21st Century Technology you have new system for washing, filtering, separating toxic liquid waste for Waste Water Treatment Plant, using solid waste for producing Bio Energy, physical waste will be possible to recycling - depending of quality. The Solid waste with max 35 % of moisture you deposing in ground and reforesting. Actual dam storage toxic liquid was catastrophic. You can see in Google Many toxic storage of nuclear liquid waste - that is ABSURD technical solution.

PS1: to see my new 21st Century Technology see in google mapy Company "Vega do Sul" actualy propriety Metytal Stell in Island Sao Francisco state St. Catarina Brazil 500 km south of Sâo Paulo.

PS2: International Environmental Agency will impose my new technology.

Carl Jenkins
10 months ago
Carl Jenkins 10 months ago

Once you have the first data I mentioned in hand, you may then look for complementary consulting services. We'll be glad to assist ACES on this project. Just contact GéO-CSP http://www.geo-csp.fr/contact_en.html

Zander Barcalow
10 months ago
Zander Barcalow 10 months ago

Agree with Patrick understand your tailings then contact an experienced tailings engineering consultancy. Australian Tailings Consultants (ATC) I have used. They have work experience in Australia and Iran that I know of.

Jean Rasczak
10 months ago
Jean Rasczak 10 months ago

Every post here is on about the structure of tailing dams! We're supposed to be giving help to clean up this mess.

First there should be geo tech dams in the river with slurry pumps taking the shit out. Bag it, or contain with in the terrain at selected point to dry and be recovered if there still acid in the clean water use reverse osmosis to clean.

Please let's talk clean up.

Sugar Watkins
10 months ago
Sugar Watkins 10 months ago

E&MJ, a mining journal has a six part series on how to get to World Class Maintenance. Worth looking at.

Marshal Dienes
10 months ago
Marshal Dienes 10 months ago

You should also check with the Mining Association of Canada who have a great series of publications on Tailings Dams, their management, etc. Free to download at http://www.mining.ca their focus is more on the management of tailings and having the appropriate systems in place. We have lots of good technology as the posts above indicate. Often the issue is putting the good design techniques and good practices into play. Are you asking the question as part of an academic exercise or is it a real life situation?




David Kano
10 months ago
David Kano 10 months ago

Whatever you do don’t use the same people as BHP or Vale.

Bill Rico
10 months ago
Bill Rico 10 months ago

The solutions given as Canada have some of the highest mining standards in the world.

John Koenig
10 months ago
John Koenig 10 months ago

I hate when all the expert's go missing on posts like this!!!! If I had been there on the 24 hours I guarantee that mess would have not reached the ATLANTIC and it did travel 500mile.

Shame on the people that know everything but. Do nothing.

By the way I am a no body person here I just know through studies the disaster could have been minimised.

Please join and login to participate and leave a comment.