Tailings and Mine Waste Conference

Field testing of co-disposal techniques for acid generating tailings and waste rock at Cerro de Maimón Mine Li, Allen; Andruchow, Brian; Wislesky, Irwin; Olson, Eric


The mining industry is ever striving to comply with increasingly stringent environmental regulations through innovations in mine waste management. In recent years, innovative technologies have rapidly developed to effectively store and manage mine waste as a means of reducing environmental impacts through the entire life cycle of the mine development, from start-up, operations to closure. These technologies include tailings thickening/dewatering and co-disposal/co-mingling with problematic waste rock. This paper presents development of a co-disposal technique for the Cerro de Maimón Mine located in the Dominican Republic, where both tailings and waste rock are acid generating. The conventional slurry tailings were thickened to a non-segregating consistency to facilitate co-disposal of the tailings and waste rock. A large scale field experiment was carried out to investigate the effectiveness of different co-disposal methods through two stages of the investigation. Stage 1 involved deposition of acid generating waste rock on an existing tailings beach and Stage 2 involved deposition of waste rock and tailings in layers of different thicknesses. Two test cells were constructed at the site: one cell for tailings and waste rock deposition in approximately 1 m thick layers; and the other cell for deposition in approximately 2 m thick layers. Tailings samples were taken prior to and after waste rock placement using thin walled samplers. Field instrumentation included moisture sensors and settlement plates. The in-situ properties of the tailings were characterized through both field and laboratory testing programs including field vane tests, self-consolidation tests, soil water characteristic tests, suction measurements and moisture content profile determinations. The results of the field experiment indicate that co-disposal represents a feasible means to increase storage efficiency and reduce environmental impact of the mine wastes. [All papers were considered for technical and language appropriateness by the organizing committee.]

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