Engineering & Mining Journal

SEP 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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Page 49 of 75

TAILINGS MANAGEMENT 48 E&MJ • SEPTEMBER 2018 Still, the majority of mines worldwide use conventional methods that may or may not involve thickening, and consequently produce tailings in the 20%-40% solids range or slightly higher. In cases where a mine may be running out of storage space for its conventional tailings, looking for a method to achieve additional dewatering without filtration, or might need special handling of material from TSF leaks or overflow, TenCate Geosynthetics offers its Geotube technology, claimed to provide input volume reduction up to 90%. The company's Geotube containers, made from an engineered geofabric, are available in a variety of sizes to accommo- date specific customer volume and space requirements. Once installed, sludge or slurry can be pumped into the bladders after treatment with polymers that pro- mote solids binding and water separation. Clear effluent water drains from the blad- der and can be collected for reuse, and solids remain in the bag where they can be stored or removed if necessary. Geo- tubes have been used to handle special situations involving tailings at a nickel mine in Finland and a gold mine in Mexi- co, according to the company. Knowing What's Below Common sense, not to mention overall safety, operational efficiency and regulato- ry pressure, dictates that TSF owners must have an understanding of what lies be- neath the surface of their empoundments. Traditionally, mines often have carried out TSF surveys with workers aboard boats us- ing anything from measuring poles to so- nar fish-finders to determine water depth, tailings density and variations in density around the TSF. This approach presents a certain level of risk to workers as well as being labor intensive, time consuming and doesn't always provide high accura- cy. Mines also perform aerial surveys us- ing manned aircraft and, at an increasing rate, drones for surface measurements and topographical data collection. In 2016, four authors from Newfields*, an environmental, engineering, and con- struction management consulting fi rm, presented a paper at the Tailings and Mass Waste conference held in Keystone, Colo- rado, USA, describing the respective ad- vantages and drawbacks of using manual, aircraft-based and surface-based surveys of TSFs. Although aerial surveys with air- planes or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) generally produce highly usable informa- tion, particularly when covering wide ar- eas, the authors called attention to an even newer survey tool — tiny boats called USVs (unmanned surface vehicles) equipped with sophisticated location and telemetry equipment that are claimed to be capable of conducting safer, more accurate and less costly TSF surveys than available by other methods in some circumstances. Newfields, which uses both winged and multirotor UAVs for surveys as well as a remote-controlled, battery-operated 6-ft-long USV that collects bathymetric and subsurface data, offers the combined package to customers interested in ob- taining both above- and below-the-surface information regarding their TSFs. The company explained that this approach allows it to model the terrain above and below the water surface in a way that is extremely difficult to replicate using tra- ditional methods. Photogrammetric and hydro acoustic data are collected with Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) positioning * Johnson, A., Preston, M., Burkhalter, C., Krieger, G., Balge, Z., Lutes, K., New Remote Sensing Systems for Improved Planning and Management of Mine Tailings Storage Facilities, Proceedings, Tailings & Mine Waste 2016.

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