The challenges of increasingly scarce water resources and the risk of dam failures has seen the mining industry turn to sustainable tailings management solutions such as dewatering and dry stacking. Filtering tailings has been seen in the past as a cost-prohibitive process for larger throughput mines. However, as larger pressure filters are developed, the economic case for filtered tailings has gained traction.
Focus has largely been placed on the correct design and operation of the filters. It is critical, however, that the material handling portion of the disposal system is also properly designed and operated. Thorough testing at laboratory and pilot scale to determine the conveying properties of the filtered material needs to be conducted. This testing will insure the material handling system meets the important availability needs of the mine even during periods of variability in the upstream processes and mine plan.
The control system must also be robust and flexible in design to compensate for this upstream process variability. The control system needs to allow for different flowsheets including straight filtered tails as well as EcoTails™, a low-energy solution for co-mingling waste rock and filter cake.
This paper will present case studies of different material handling solutions, the testing required for them and the lessons learned from each.
Rahal, K, Nicholson, A, Stefansen, R and Wisdom, T, 2018. Material handling testing and control system requirements for dry stack tailings, in Proceedings Mine Waste and Tailings Stewardship Conference 2018, pp 361–368 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).