Tailings and Mine Waste Conference

Brief history of the conference series Van Zyl, Dirk 2011

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Proceedings Tailings and Mine Waste 2011 Vancouver, BC, November 6 to 9, 2011 Brief History of the Conference Series Dirk Van Zyl University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Jack A. Caldwell Robertson GeoConsultants, Vancouver, Canada Introduction This short paper provides a brief history of the series of Tailings and Mine Waste conferences plus others organized and sponsored by Colorado State University. This is the first time that such a summary has been put together and we hope that members of previous organizing committees will provide further updates to this in the future. Table 1 provides a complete listing of the series of conferences, providing information about the locations and specifically the proceedings page count, number of papers and publishers. The Conferences The first conference in the series was held in 1978.  It was organized by the Geotechnical Engineering Program of the Civil Engineering Department of Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. The organizing committee was John Nelson, Thomas Shepherd, Steven Abt, Wayne Charlie, and John Welsh.  The authors have been privileged to know and work with these people.  The first conference was on Uranium Mill Tailings Management, for that was the hot tailings topic of the time. The series of conferences on uranium mill tailings continued through 1985.  The nine volumes of proceedings total some 3,700 pages.  By 1984, the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project was well underway.  The development of new uranium mines had declined and interest in uranium tailings was no longer wide-spread.  Plus the industry had become aware of hazardous waste. Thus in 1984 and 1985, the conference title was expanded to Management of Uranium Mill Tailings, Low-level Waste and Hazardous Waste.  As the organizing committee notes in a preface to the 1984 proceedings: “During the last five years, significant problem areas have been defined in low-level waste and hazardous waste management that have definite similarities to uranium mill tailings management.  Much interrelated technology has been developed that has direct applicability in each of the different areas.  For that reason, this conference includes papers dealing with this broader scope.” In 1986, the organizing committee, this time consisting of Steve Abt, John Nelson, Richard Wardwell, and Dirk van Zyl changed the title and focus to Geotechnical and Geohydrological Aspects of Waste Management.  They note their reasons in the preface: “The first five annual symposia focussed on the design, construction, and operation of uranium tailings impoundments.  The sixth and seventh were of broader scope, and included low-level and hazardous waste management.  This eighth symposium continues the process of technology transfer but focuses more precisely on the geotechnical and geohydrological aspects of waste management: the two engineering areas of prime importance in the design and operation of waste disposal facilities.”  This symposium attracted about fifty-five papers spread over nearly 558 pages of proceedings. This same focus was maintained for the 1987 conference. By 1988 the uranium market had declined, mills had closed, and support for a symposium on uranium mill tailings, hazardous waste, or most any topic associated with mine waste had declined.  The mining industry was in a slump and few were lucky enough to go to a conference on any topic. Proceedings Tailings and Mine Waste 2011 Vancouver, BC, November 6 to 9, 2011 In 1994, Colorado State University, the sponsor of the uranium mill tailings conferences, resuscitated the conference series as Tailings and Mine Waste, the title by which the series goes today.  As the organizers noted: “It is hoped that this conference will serve the same function for the general mining industry that the previous symposia served for the uranium mining industry.” The proceedings of 1994 contain twenty-seven papers.  The proceedings from 1995 contain a mere fourteen.  By 2003, the paper count was up to sixty and the venue was Vail, Colorado. In 2004 the paper count and attendance reduced leading to a negative financial situation for the conference and reluctance on the part of the management of the Department of Civil Engineering at Colorado State University to support the conference series. In late 2007 an organizational committee was established in Colorado and through the support of a number of consulting engineering companies and suppliers, a stable financial basis was established for the conferences in Colorado. It was also decided to rotate the conference series between Colorado State University and two Canadian Universities. The following sequence was established: 2008 Colorado State University, 2009 University of Alberta, 2010 Colorado state University, 2011 University of British Columbia, 2012 Colorado State University, etc. In 2008, the conference was back in Vail and at this time John Nelson was the honorary Conference Chair. 2009 saw us in Banff and 2010 back in Vail.  This year it is Vancouver.  The proceedings of those conferences sit proudly on our shelves attesting to the enormous success of the industry and the conference that is now a part of the stable roster of dependable things to do each year. Now we have more papers and participation from the oil sands industry for they are the biggest miners in the world and they are doing things with tailings and mine waste that we never dreamt of back when this conference series started. Now there are specialty conferences on mine closure, paste tailings, and many other focus topics once part of this series.  In spite of the specialty meetings, this series remain the best and most overall of focus. Those of us lucky enough to have a nearly complete set of the proceedings do refer to the proceedings, both for fun and instruction.  For it is fun to go back and see how things change (as is done in two papers in this conference) and it is instructive to go back and read the ideas and advances of the past as a way to get inspiration and energy to move forward.   Proceedings Tailings and Mine Waste 2011 Vancouver, BC, November 6 to 9, 2011  Table 1: Conference series details, 1978 to 2010 Year Title Date and Location Pages Papers Publisher 1978 Uranium Mill Tailings Management Fort Collins, CO., November 20 and 21 172 11 Geotechnical Engineering Program, Colorado State University 1978 Uranium Mill Tailings Management, Volume II Fort Collins, CO., November 20 and 21 126 9 Geotechnical Engineering Program, Colorado State University 1979 Uranium Mill Tailings Management Fort Collins, CO., November 19 and 20 308 26 Geotechnical Engineering Program, Colorado State University 1980 Uranium Mill Tailings Management Fort Collins, CO., November 24 and 25 573 30 Geotechnical Engineering Program, Colorado State University 1981 Uranium Mill Tailings Management Fort Collins, CO., October 26 and 27 727 43 Geotechnical Engineering Program, Colorado State University 1982 Uranium Mill Tailings Management Fort Collins, CO, December 9 and 10 556 38 Geotechnical Engineering Program, Colorado State University 1984 Management of Uranium Tailings, Low-Level Waste and Hazardous Waste Fort Collins, CO, February 1 to 3 670 66 Geotechnical Engineering Program, Colorado State University 1985 Management of Uranium Tailings, Low-Level Waste and Hazardous Waste, Volume I Fort Collins, CO, February 6 to 8 252 60 Geotechnical Engineering Program, Colorado State University 1985 Management of Uranium Tailings, Low-Level Waste and Hazardous Waste, Volume II Fort Collins, CO, February 6 to 8 334 34 Geotechnical Engineering Program, Colorado State University 1986 Geotechnical and Geohydrological Aspects of Waste Fort Collins, CO, February 5 to 7 558 55 A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam Proceedings Tailings and Mine Waste 2011 Vancouver, BC, November 6 to 9, 2011 Management 1987 Geotechnical and Geohydrological Aspects of Waste Management Fort Collins, CO, February 1 to 6 312 26 Lewis Publishers, Inc. 1994 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘94 Fort Collins, CO, January 19 to 21 259 27 A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam 1995 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘95 Fort Collins, CO, January 17 to 20 131 14 A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam 1996 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘96 Fort Collins, CO, January 16 to 19 664 69 A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam 1997 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘97 Fort Collins, CO, January 13 to 17 788 83 A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam 1998 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘98 Fort Collins, CO, January 26 to 28 968 99 A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam 1999 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘99 Fort Collins, CO, January 24 to 27 808 88 A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam 2000 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘00 Fort Collins, CO, January 23 to 26 566 61 A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam 2001 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘01 Fort Collins, CO, January 16 to 19 472 52 A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam 2002 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘02 Fort Collins, CO, January 27 to 30 520 64 A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam 2003 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘03 Vail, CO, October 12 to 15 526 63 A.A. Balkema, Lisse 2004 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘04 Vail, CO, October 10 to 13 428 48 A.A. Balkema, Leiden 2008 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘08 Vail, CO, October 19 to 22 449 41 Taylor and Francis Group, London 2009 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘09 Banff, Alberta, November 1 to 4 901 79 University of Alberta Geotechnical Center, University of Alberta 2010 Tailings and Mine Waste ‘10 Vail, CO, October 17 to 20 471 46 Taylor and Francis Group, London 

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