The SME Guide to Tailings Resources

Access tailings management case studies, research, technical papers, and industry best practices from around the world.

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10th International Conference on Acid Rock Drainage and International Mine Water Association Annual Conference

ICARD-IMWA 2015 is organized to provide an international forum where mining professionals, operators, researchers and suppliers can meet to exchange, interact, analyze and discuss experiences and recent innovations in the area of sound and responsible mine water and effluent management. These proceedings contain 220 abstracts of papers and posters written by authors from 24 countries. The main topics addressed by the abstracts included in these proceedings are: Geomicrobiology, biogeochemical cycles and biomining; Applied mineralogy and geoenvironmental units; Prediction of drainage flow; Prediction of drainage chemistry; Mine water and drainage collection and treatment; Cover design and performance; Scaling from laboratory to field studies; Reliable mine waste management; Reliable mine water operation; Mine dewatering; Mine water management for closure; Mine water geochemistry and Pit lakes.


11th International Conference on Acid Rock Drainage and International Mine Water Association Annual Conference

ICARD-IMWA 2018 is organized to provide an international forum where mining professionals, operators, researchers and suppliers can meet to exchange, interact, analyze and discuss experiences and recent innovations in the area of sound and responsible mine water and effluent management. The majority of the papers included in the proceedings will deal with mitigation, remediation, and responsible mine water management. The conference aims to be a platform for exchanging ideas and experience from mining operations to remediation of abandoned mine sites in various climatic and cultural conditions.


2007 Technical Bulletins

In 2007, CDA published a set of technical bulletins to supplement Dam Safety Guidelines. The technical bulletins suggest methodologies and procedures for use by qualified professionals as they carry out dam analyses and safety assessments.

Publication Event

A comparison of cemented paste backfill shotcrete barricade design methods, Paste 2021: 24th International Conference on Paste, Thickened and Filtered Tailings, Paste 2021

The use of cemented paste backfill (CPB) is becoming increasingly more common at underground mines worldwide. Part of any CPB design includes the specification of the (typically) shotcrete barricades that retain the CPB within the stope during filling. Newmont’s Tanami Operations (NTO) has started an in situ barricade stress monitoring program. The data from this program will provide a basis for comparison of several models that can be used to model the capacity of these barricades. These models vary in complexity from analytical solutions to 3D numerical models. Part of the comparison will include a discussion detailing the required material inputs and how these inputs were obtained. Analysis of this comparison will provide additional understanding on what parameters affect the ultimate capacity of a shotcrete barricade.


A Comprehensive Global Database of Tailings Flows

Tailings are finely ground waste rock produced as a by-product of standard mining projects as well as some industrial and power plant operations. Tailings are conventionally impounded behind a dam that is raised perpetually insofar as operations continue, thus amassing large volumes of materials (sometimes including supernatant pond water) in the process. The failures of some tailings impoundments have triggered downstream mass movements that have caused human, economic and environmental impacts, thus inviting considerable public attention and scrutiny. Developing a detailed inventory of these “tailings flows” facilitates a better understanding of the magnitude-frequency statistics, preconditioning and trigger variables, breach-outflow processes and downstream runout behaviour. Upon screening over 350 historical waste impoundment failure incidents in pre-existing secondary datasets, we have developed a comprehensive global database of 63 tailings flows from 1928-2020 while following strict case selection criteria with the support of satellite imagery, digital elevation models (DEMs) and source literature. Using a novel runout zonation method, the satellite images and DEMs were analyzed on geographic information systems (GIS) platforms to independently estimate runout distances, inundation areas and travel path angles of tailings flows. Depending on data availability or quality, we also summarized the background information, impoundment conditions and geotechnical indices to provide site-specific context to case histories. The collated data is aimed to (i) broaden the scholarly understanding of tailings breach-runout behaviour, (ii) provide comprehensive documentation while assessing the limitations of data availability and/or quality in the public domain and (iii) establish a consistent framework for reporting various properties of tailings dam failures and tailings flows. Lastly, we note that the data should be treated with prudence. Tailings impoundments are highly variable depending on the locality, and site-specific conditions exert strong controls on post-breach behaviour. As such, it is recommended that our database be used purely as a basis for screening-level assessments, case analog comparisons and academic research. For site-specific prediction studies undertaken by practitioners, targeted field observations, laboratory investigations and numerical models are essential.


A Consultant’s Perspective on EOR Responsibilities

Copy of workshop presentation. Ridlen presents the difference between tailings and water dams and the challenges of both. He then presents his client experiences and an example of a client policy and project.


A Geostatistical Study Workflow and Software Guide for Tailings Deposit

Estimation of fines and solids content in tailings oil sands deposits is imperative for tailings planning as well as reporting tailings inventory to the regulator. This report reviews the development of a proper procedure for the engineering assessment of uncertainty in reported tailings mass/ volume as a function of data spacing.


A Guide to Audit and Assess Oil Sands Fluid Fine Tailings Performance Management

This document provides oil sands mining operators with guidelines for the audit and assessment process consistent with the requirements set out in the Performance Management documents from COSIA. There is a requirement for a 5-year audit and assessment by an independent team of audit/assessors. Through this process, the audit and assessment team will: 1. Assess the reasonableness of the relevant plans and reports. 2. Provide an opinion as to whether the mine closure plan is realistic and the progressive management of FFT is on track to the desired closure outcome.


A Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities (the Tailings Guide)

Quote from main page: A Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities (the Tailings Guide) is designed to be applied by MAC members and non-MAC members alike, anywhere in the world. The Tailings Guide, first released in 1998, provides guidance on responsible tailings management, helps companies develop and implement site-specific tailings management systems, and improves consistency of application of engineering and management principles to tailings management.

Publication Event

A measured risk approach to managing the design and operation of a tailings storage facility, MGR 2019: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Mining Geomechanical Risk, MGR 2019

Tailings storage facility (TSF) design has long been based on deterministic limits. By extension, the TSF owner accepts a Probability of Failure (PF) associated with these deterministic limits which are assessed against ‘industry norms’ with respect to investigation/analysis and design assumptions related to the operation of the facility. If the Probability of Failure of a design that is derived in this way is taken as the likelihood related to the tolerable risk limit, it follows that the same, or a lower PF, should be maintained during operations. Examples of operational controls include pond management and inspections/monitoring. Upset conditions arise when operational controls are not being implemented. Therefore, by comparing the calculated PF of the TSF complying with the design assumptions and the PF for the same TSF in an upset condition, the required PF of operational controls can be estimated. This concept assists the TSF owner in determining what is required to safely operate the facility and communicate the geotechnical risk to all stakeholders. By extension, scenarios where a TSF owner cannot achieve the required PF of operational controls can be addressed with: 1. Greater rigor applied to operational controls. 2. Addition of more operational controls. 3. A change to the design assumptions, where the timing of the project allows. This method provides a measured approach to risk management in the design and operational phases, without a TSF owner having to quantify an acceptable risk tolerance. Instead, the design is based upon widely accepted practice and industry/business accepted safety, economic and environmental risk levels. Subsequently, the design PF can be calculated and then applied as a benchmark for operations. This approach serves to reduce uncertainty through alignment of the design and operation phases. The concept is explored for three different tailings storage methods: upstream raised TSF, downstream raised TSF, and impoundment by mine waste dumps, to estimate how sensitive each storage method is to the type and effectiveness of operational controls implemented by the dam owner.

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