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Adopting Tailings Management System

The key to successful adoption of the system is in the ability to thicken the tailings to a degree that, upon discharge, would allow them to flow to a reasonable and predictable field deposition slope. Every mine produces tailings that have a unique relation between concentration of solids and deposition slope. This relation is the first parameter that must be obtained in order to establish the cost of providing thickening capability that will achieve the desired tailings consistency. In spite of numerous attempts, it has not been possible to predict the field deposition slope directly from variables such as grain size distribution, particle specific surfaces, consistency, and pH.

Services Provided

The following is a list of our services:

  1. Laboratory Tests and Laboratory Report.
    • Tailings deposition tests are carried out at the TMS laboratory in South River Ontario, to establish a graphical relation between percent solids of the tailings and the anticipated field deposition slope angle. At times a relationship may be obtained from proprietary tests carried out in a deposition trough into which tailings are discharged at different percent solids, revealing corresponding resultant slopes. The above tests together with attendant rheological properties provide information for establishing the optimum degree of thickening for sizing of thickening and delivery equipment. To enable disposal volume quantities to be estimated throughout the duration of the operation, the progressively increasing bulk density of the future in-situ deposit is obtained in a large-size special consolidation device. This same device permits the determination of the corresponding hydraulic conductivity of the tailings for environmental (seepage) considerations. The basic tests also include grain size determinations to 0.002 mm, for reference and correlation purposes, and Atterberg limits, if applicable, for geotechnical classification of the tailings. Finally, shrinkage limit tests are to be carried out to establish the bulk density of the tailings under the drying effect of the climate at the site. Shrinkage tests are particularly significant for the well-drained sloped tailings deposits that are subjected to natural drying conditions.
    • For most projects, three or four 20-litre pails of tailings is sufficient sample to carry out all the above tests. The sample may be obtained from an existing operation or from a mineralogical testing laboratory for a proposed project.

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    • It is normal for suppliers of pumps and pipelines to do rheological testing. However, as noted above we regularly obtain preliminary rheological parameters for the high percent solids often required for a TMS. We find that the agreement between the rheology parameters and the deposition trough is good for fine grained tailings and deposition slopes between 1 to 3 percent.

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  2. Site Visit
    • If the laboratory tests and an examination of the existing conditions (climatic and topographic) indicate that conversion to the TMS would be beneficial, practical and economical, a site visit by Dennis Netherton or project specific senior associate is recommended to inspect site, discuss the TMS with the operating staff, and to answer department specific questions.

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  3. Feasibility Report
    • Study to Determine Optimal Disposal Capacity and Establish a Schedule for Discharge and Placement of Tailings

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    • An analysis is made of the topographic plans, site constraints, climatic conditions, and the schedule of anticipated tailings production. On the basis of this information, a site-specific study of tailings disposal is made in order to determine optimal site capacity. Volume storage determinations and slope angle studies are made for preparation of a schedule of Thickened Tailings discharge. Also included is a recommended generalized layout plan of the proposed scheme, discharge system, water recycle positioning, dam locations and heights, and reclamation recommendations. The degree and timetable for the progressive thickening required during the life of the project is indicated, if appropriate. Generally, it will be found that the Feasibility and Preliminary Design Reports are sufficiently detailed for the general consultant, client, or Prime Contractor to obtain cost estimates, and produce a final design details and Contract Documents. At the client's request and our recommendation, we are available for progress and development meetings as the project takes shape in the field.

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