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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TAILINGS MANAGEMENT SEPTEMBER 2018 • E&MJ 49 and processed in a workflow that results in a site model consisting of a continuous surface above and below the waterline. According to Newfields, the low cost and rapid turnaround of data afforded by this approach allow mine operators to frequently monitor a TSF, make oper- ational changes to optimize storage and use the data products to improve related operations. The information and trends allow managers to predict with greater certainty the timing of future construc- tion to expand capacity, improving the mine's ability to budget and prepare for these large-scale projects. Additionally, said the company, mill operations man- agers benefit from accurately knowing the volume of available water in the pond for water-balance considerations, environ- mental managers can use the imagery to estimate surface moisture of the tailings beach and monitor embankment reveg- etation, and construction managers can use the imagery and 3-D model around the facility embankment to monitor ongo- ing construction/earthworks projects. However, not all tailings deposits lend themselves to concise evaluation from aerial or floating devices. Consolidated tailings and mixed materials, for example, make it difficult to see what lies beneath the surface. This is where sonic drilling can prove highly useful, with rigs such as Boart Longyear's LS250 MiniSonic pro- viding a combination of high maneuver- ability, low ground pressure and the ability to drill effectively and quickly in a variety of materials, providing undisturbed sam- ples while using little or no drilling fluids. Drilling companies have reported us- ing sonic drilling in diverse materials ranging from frozen tailings to bauxite tailings, where it was able to collect sam- ples to 200 ft depth in caustic (pH 13), very fluid (35% solids), and gel-like ma- terial, from a floating platform. Maintaining Management Visibility Any of the available tailings processing and storage technologies and practices can lose their effectiveness if they aren't governed by an inclusive tailings man- agement system. In 2016, Golder Asso- ciates conducted a review of TSF stan- dards, guidelines and risk controls used by International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) members, which com- prise 23 of the world's largest mining and metals companies. The review con- cluded that although member compa- nies' systems/guidelines varied in terms of content and comprehensiveness, most have corporate guidance documents that meet and sometimes go beyond what would be considered to be good practice in tailings management. Golder's primary recommendation was that a tailings management frame- work, supported by a governance frame- work that meets minimum requirements, should be adopted by all ICMM members. Above all, according to Golder's conclu- sions, owners and operators of TSFs need assurance that TSFs are being managed to minimize the possibility of catastrophic failure, and they need answers to certain questions in order to achieve those assur- ances. These questions include: • Are all tailings facilities designed with a full understanding of site conditions and reasonably-expected operating conditions? • Are tailings facilities being constructed and operated in accordance with de- fined thresholds and performance indi-

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