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Engineering Solutions to End Tailings

Disposal and storage of mine tailings has been making news headlines around the world. Increasingly, the industry recognises that mine tailings must be managed in a way that protects the environment. Good business practice also makes good business sense, writes Gustavo Miranda Brasil, Business Development Executive at CDE.


While safety issues around mine tailings is well documented and should be the top priority, what is perhaps less well known is that mine tailings also contain considerable value.


The key to unlocking this value lies in recovering the fine ore fractions from waste slurries or ponds and repurposing waste into valuable construction materials and the solution ultimately lies in negating the need for tailings ponds altogether.


CDE, which has 30 projects in the South American market, has made it our business to protect, preserve and reinvigorate the environment using the most sustainable mining methods.


As a result, it has engineered novel solutions to process materials previously deemed mine tailings or waste – work that sees the company recognised as pioneers of a new era of mine waste management.


Tailing Dams Rehabilitation

This experience shows that the good news is that tailings dams can be rehabilitated. More so, there is significant value to be recovered in doing so.


Today, advances in wet processing are playing a pivotal role in eliminating the need for tailings dams and, in particular, CDE’s development of bespoke modular tailings management and beneficiation solutions.


This is going a long way to demonstrate the positive benefits mining operations can bring to the local economy by turning mining waste into revenue streams or materials for use in environmental rehabilitation.


Take for example, CDE’s projects in Minas Gerais, Brazil, where - ahead of the curve for tailings recovery and remediation in the region - the company developed a dewatering system to rehabilitate a tailings dam, utilising the recovered solids in ground remediation and road brick manufacture.


The project employed six CDE EvoWash™ washing units to dewater 30,000 tonnes per month of materials which were stockpiled as a dry product. Two banks of cyclones reduced 30 per cent of the mass sent to the filter press with the resulting cakes then used in soil composition and road brick manufacture.


This bespoke modular wet processing solution allowed for 45,000 tonnes of material to be diverted from the customer’s tailings dam on a monthly basis.


A New World of Resource

In summary, while sustainable tailings management is a necessity in order to protect the environment and increasingly meet environmental legislation, innovative technologies and modular tailings recovery systems also make for good business sense and open up new revenue streams for customers. Sustainable, responsible management of mines and mine tailings is a win-win situation for everyone.

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