Filter-pressed tailings facility design, construction, and operating guidelines Caldwell, Jack; Crystal, Colleen
Filter-pressed tailings facilities have been designed, constructed, and operated since the late 1980 when Greens Creek, Alaska first adopted the method. Currently more and more mining companies are considering filter-pressed tailings management as a way to reduce water consumption and possibly reduce the risk of failure of the tailings facility. This paper describes guidelines for decision making in support of the design, construction, and operation of filter-pressed tailings facilities. The guidelines are based on recent projects on which the authors have worked. The paper emphasizes the need to characterise the site, establish realistic tailings properties, take into account site-specific climate and seismicity, and the possible need to amend tailings to achieve moisture contents that facilitate compaction and strength gain of the tailings. The paper discusses alternate stack geometries that may be required to facilitate construction, achieve moisture control, manage surface water, and limit seepage and groundwater impact. Finally the paper proposes a risk assessment approach to guide selection of tolerable risks that are inevitably involved in all tailings operations—and pursue the goal of a zero-failure operation.
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