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British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Long-term management of tailings and tailings dams at decommissioned mining properties Baker, Fred A.; Berthelot, Debbie S.


Recent additions to government legislation addressing mine closure issues and responsibilities, together with several recent unfortunate and significant failures of tailings containment systems have necessarily focussed industry and the public's attention on the long-term, even perpetual, requirement for management of tailings. A serious question now facing the mining industry and government is how these waste facilities can best be safely managed to ensure protection of human health and the environment in the long term. There are probably several viable alternatives, depending upon the actual specifics of the particular site. One option is considered to be management by a specialist third party contractor. In March 1998, Rio Algom Limited was presented with an opportunity to test third party management of a group of mine facilities situated in the Elliot Lake area, comprising of 11 mine sites and 7 closed and decommissioned tailings management areas with 5 active effluent treatment plants. This paper presents the approach to managing liability, cost and risk under third party management with a focus on facility inspection and maintenance programs.

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