The mining industry generally agrees that one area where mining firms need to focus on is the management of tailings storage facilities. These materials are often toxic and can cause major environmental hazards if not properly contained and managed. Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF) are designed to safely store left over mined materials.
What are the different types of tailings storage facilities?
There are several types of tailings storage facilities (TSF)’s: • Ponds and dams • Paste tailings • Dry stacking • Underground storage • Submarine tailings • Phytostabilisation
The main types of TSF’s explained:
1. Ponds and Dams
Ponds and dams are most frequently used when refuse materials are collected in a slurry, a mixture of waste material and water. Tailings ponds are used to store slurry, allowing solid materials to collect as sedimentation. Dams are often constructed to prevent spillage of waste material. The advantage of a tailings pond and dam system is to prevent fine tailings’ exposure to wind, and thus transportation outside of the immediate area.
2. Paste TailingsPaste tailings are similar to tailings ponds, but use paste thickeners to increase the percentage of solid material in the slurry. In paste tailings, more water is recycled but material transportation costs tend to be higher.
3. Dry StackingTailings can be “dewatered,” removing liquids from the solid material using vacuum or pressure filters. The remaining dry tailings can be stacked and moved as needed.
4. Underground StorageTailings are mixed with other waste materials and cement, which can then be used to backfill underground voids and stopes.
5. Submarine TailingsThis method uses a pipe to discharge tailings directly into the ocean. As such, it is highly controversial.
Using hyperaccumulator plants (capable of growing in high concentrations of metals, absorbing these metals through their roots, and concentrating extremely high levels of metals in their tissues) to both absorb pollutants, reducing wind and water erosion. This provides and area around the plants where materials can stabilize, reducing environmental exposure to pollutants.
How to effectively monitor your tailings storage facility
Decipher’s Tailings solution is designed to provide you with key data and insights, enabling you to effectively monitor your TSF and your environmental obligations and compliance. Our solution can be securely accessed by industry, regulators, designers and operators involved in the management of TSFs. Decipher offers a comprehensive and functionally rich solution which combines regulatory (Compliance Management Software), mining waste management, stakeholder engagement, environmental monitoring, and environmental management system (EMS) tools to assist with tailings management:
- View real-time data and receive exceedance alerts
- Monitor land movement with remote sensing and InSAR datasets
- Visualise real-time LiDAR data with insights into dam movement
- Securely store and access all of your tailings data in the one place
- Upload and reference key documentation
- Visualise facilities across multiple sites in a single screen on a geospatial map
- Monitor your facilities with InSAR, LiDAR, DEM and more
- Capture a wide range of monitoring data and indicators su ch as surface and groundwater, decant pond water levels and quality, and embankment conditions
- Capture and track obligations and conditions around your licence to operate to manage your key risks and actions
- Action and task delegation for data collection with reminders
- Maintain and track environmental monitoring compliance limits and exceedances
- Manage and engage with all of your stakeholders with one central repository
- Convert your engagements into actionable outcomes
- Forecast, plan and track your sites activities using IBM’s Weather data
- Create corporate report templates and meet requests for data provision from industry groups such as ICMM, Global Tailings Portal, PRI and UNEP
- Integration capability with third party systems or public portals such as the Global Tailings Portal
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