A new approach to tailings management : the granular cover system Hall, Glen J. H.; Elliott, Linda C. M.; Quesnel, Jamie L.
The challenge of effectively isolating sulphide bearing waste rock and tailings requires that oxidation of sulphides be prevented and/or the escape of interstitial salt solutions from the tailings mass be prevented. The establishment of a water cover over top of tailings has been demonstrated to effectively reduce the oxidation of sulphides and thereby minimize acid generation and metal leaching. A new approach to the control of sulphide tailings oxidation is being developed by Falconbridge Limited and Lakefield Research Limited. The technique under development involves the establishment of a composite cover of inorganic minerals, of appropriate layer thickness, hydraulic properties and composition over the deposit in such a way that both evaporation and surface run-off are greatly reduced and/or eliminated. The granular cover system is suitable to tailings deposits that have a gentle slope and do not contain large hydraulic discontinuities. The system is also best suited to geographical site locations where precipitation is not a limiting factor. This paper describes the development of the granular cover system from bench scale testwork through to pilot field scale evaluation and summarizes the results from three consecutive years of field monitoring.
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