Are Filter Tailings Practical for a High Production Mine in a Cold, Wet Climate?

This paper describes a study to assess feasibility of filtering tailings for the proposed KSM project, which has high tailings production (130,000 tpd) in a cold, high precipitation climate. Recent tailings dam failures have led to a heightened awareness of tailings dam safety in the mining industry and suggestion that filtered tailings may decrease risk of failure by decreasing both likelihood and consequence of a hypothetical failure. This study included a review of case histories, design of a conceptual filter plant and conveyor placement system, development of a water management strategy and seepage and stability assessments of the filtered tailings facility. The study concluded that filtered tailings is not suitable for the KSM project; there is no precedence for a filtered tailings facility at a similar scale in a similar climate, and the risks associated with dewatering, placing and maintaining stability of the filtered tailings facility outweigh the perceived benefits.

Patterson, K., H. McLeod, D. Hegadoren, G. Parkinson, P. Williams and B. Murphy. 2016. “Are Filter Tailings Practical for a High Production Mine in a Cold, Wet Climate?” in: Tailings and Mine Waste ’16 : Proceedings, International Conference on Tailings and Mine Waste, Keystone Resort, Keystone, Colorado, October 2-5, 2016.

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