Tailings Surface Stacking – A Longevity Review

Surface stacked tailings

Published by International Mining Magazine

Our experts discuss three case studies that illustrate the longevity of paste-thickened tailings facilities in the July 2022 edition of International Mining, Paste & Tailings Supplement. Coauthored by WesTech engineers Jerold Johnson and Brad Bentley, the article takes readers from iron mines in China and South Africa, where climates are arid, to a Brazilian bauxite plant operating in a semi-tropical climate.

All three facilities have successfully used paste and thickened tailings (P&TT) technologies for over 14 years. In each case, P&TT technology has resulted in stable tailings storage that reduces the risk of flooding caused by the failure of traditional storage dams.

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P&TT technology begins with paste-type thickeners that produce tailings with non-Newtonian properties – including a yield stress that provides a relatively non-settling, non-segregating suspension. This suspension enables surface stacking, which increases water recovery, can be used in wet or dry climates, and allows plants to construct low-risk tailings storage facilities like those highlighted in the case studies.