Tailings and Mine Waste Conference

Lining of the return water dam at the Onverwacht tailings storage facility Addis, Philip


The Nkomati nickel mine is located in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. A new cross valley tailings storage facility (TSF) was constructed for the mine in 2009 at the Onverwacht site which is located about 14 km south of the mine. The TSF will have a final capacity of 90 Mt and the site development included the construction of a return water dam (RWD) with a capacity of 250 000 m³. The RWD was designed and constructed in accordance with the requirements of the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry’s Dam Safety Office for a Category II facility. The dam was lined with a 1.5 mm HDPE geomembrane and a comprehensive leakage detection system was installed. The flow rate in the leakage detection system was monitored during the construction and commissioning of the RWD. The measured flow rate in the leakage detection system indicated that the liner had failed. Details are provided of the steps taken to identify the failure and to repair it. [All papers were considered for technical and language appropriateness by the organizing committee.]

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