Page 86 - Hub 4 Magazine issue 53
P. 86

Engineering the tail end of tailings By Adam Holland, Head of Business Development for Mining, CDE
My job is never boring. I have been traveling around the world for a year, visiting mining sites in Latin America, Australia and Africa and of course here in Ireland to discover what makes each of them tick and find the most efficient ways to bring optimal yield and minimal waste. When it
comes to tailings dams, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. So much has been written about the viability of dams and the dangers associated to their sheer existence, but there is still a long way to go in terms of stepping back from mere observations and consolidating empirical research to allow the development of fool-proof solutions. The more we understand about them, the more we can bring the perfect mining waste management solution to mining
operators, with a view to eliminate the need for tailings dams thanks to the advancement in materials wet processing technology.
The total number of active tailings impoundments was loosely estimated at 3,500 in a variety of reports circa 2012, but this figure is disputed and no up to date evidence-based data exists to allow solid comparative research of the actual impact tailings dams across the world have on the environment. Correlatively, this means piecemeal solutions are the norm until a global approach to mining pollution can be considered. But piecemeal is not good enough in times of crisis.
Alarm bells have been resounding across the mining industry for years as numerous tailings dams’ failures have resulted in unspeakable damage to the environment and to the lives of thousands. Dam collapses have been affecting mining operations indiscriminately throughout the world from the Philippines to Russia, via Brazil and the United States to name just a few.
| p86 | Nov 2018 - Issue 53

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