Tailings and Mine Waste Conference

Geosynthetics in closure : the underdog that could be a winner Tong, Alvin; Miskolczi, Iozsef; Ketilson, Erik


Within North America, 939 mines are currently in production, 392 in closure, and 377 in care and maintenance. Additional 10,000-plus abandoned mines remain unremediated and are in state care. Producing mines often carry out various degrees of active closure activities to reduce risk and liabilities. This, along with active reclamation in operating mines, has created large demands for innovative engineering solutions to achieve productive and cost-effective closure objectives. To that end, geosynthetic products are being widely used in a number mining and civil applications. Typical uses include material separation, liquid containment, drainage, filtration, and strength reinforcement. In particular, the mining industry has long embraced geosynthetics in applications such as heap leach pads, tailings storage facilities, and water management. Geosynthetics have also been used in civil infrastructures such as landfills, slope reinforcements, and agriculture. Interest in using geosynthetics within closure design is increasing among engineers and project proponents. Typical mine closure activities are comprised of decommissioning of buildings and reclamation of tailings facilities and waste rock stockpiles, and treatment of contaminated effluents before discharge into environment. Given suitable design criteria, risk management and site conditions, geosynthetics can be incorporated into these structures to enhance the performance of mitigative measures, reduce additional impacts, and increase cost efficiencies. However, some stakeholders and regulators seem to be reluctant to accept the use of synthetic products for such applications. This paper considers, from various perspectives, how geosynthetics can be viable components of low to moderate risk closure projects.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International