Tailings and Mine Waste Conference

Hydrologic closure of mine tailings facilities Clarkin, Tobey; Denherder, Rod; Urlich, Cecil; Prakash, Anand; Swendseid, Jim


This paper presents a hydrologic closure design concept to minimize the risk of water discharges from closed mine tailings facilities. It evaluates the applicability of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission guidelines to develop acceptable designs for the closure of tailings facilities that have a calculated adequate surcharge capacity for environmental protection and an emergency spillway for dam safety. The guidelines provide a basis to estimate an acceptable surcharge capacity of a Probable Maximum Flood series for storage of surface runoff. To be conservative and for redundancy with respect to dam safety, an emergency spillway is provided to pass the Probable Maximum Precipitation. Depending on the annual water balance, the surcharge capacity may be used by surface runoff and minor amounts of sediment that accumulates in the impoundment from year to year. The emergency spillway crest is then set at this level or above the surcharge capacity, whichever is higher. An example is given of the active Red Dog Mine tailings facility in Alaska where this method was used for the preliminary design of the tailings main dam at its ultimate closure configuration. [All papers were considered for technical and language appropriateness by the organizing committee.]

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