David Brett, Robert Longey, Jiri Herza
The independent expert review panel for the Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility failure came out strongly recommending changes to the technology of tailings dams in British Columbia (and by inference, world-wide). The Panel had examined the historical risk profile of tailings dams in British Columbia and recommended, amongst other things, that best available technology (BAT) be adopted for tailings disposal. Examples of BAT, described by the panel, included “dry-stacking” of filtered, unsaturated, compacted tailings and reduction in the use of water covers in a closure setting. The recommended technologies would require a major shift in current practice and raises many questions, such as:
– Are these recommendations appropriate in Australia?
– Does this signal the end of the tailings dams as we know them?
– Do the current Australian National Committee on Large Dams Guidelines (ANCOLD) apply to these new BAT technologies?
– If not, is there a role for ANCOLD in setting standards for the future?
This paper discusses the Mt Polley tailings dam failure and searches for answers to these questions. In particular, this paper reviews the background to “dry-stacking’, to explore the implications for the Australian mining industry.
Keywords: Tailings Dam, Dry Stacking, Best Available Technology
Bruce Brown, Mark Coghill
Tailings management practices have evolved significantly over the last 30 to 40 years with emphasis on long term geotechnical and geochemical stability to meet community expectations and company liabilities. The main drivers have been environmental protection both during operations and post closure, public safety and water conservation. Mining companies have become aware of the significant risks resulting from the operation of tailings facilities with a number of high profile failures occurring in recent times. The common practice of building a containment structure and depositing tailings as unthickened slurry is being challenged and tested against alternative tailings treatment technologies. These include high rate thickening, paste thickening and filtration. The potential benefits of these technologies include significant reduction in process water losses, reduced design duties for the confinement structures and improved conditions for closure. Notwithstanding these potential benefits, very few facilities have implemented the new technologies due to economic constraints imposed by the evaluation methods used by the mining industry. This paper summarises the available tailings treatment technologies and the resulting implications for tailings facility design. It reviews the benefits and critiques the economic evaluation method currently in use and recommends that the industry changes its evaluation methodology to drive future trends.
Tailings Storage, Current and Future Trends
T. Mortimer, J. McNicol, P. Keefer, W. Ludlow
CS Energy’s Kogan Creek Coal Mine located in the Surat Basin in Queensland, services the 750MW coal fired, Kogan Creek Power Station. Strip mining generates large volumes of mine waste which is typically used to construct waste dumps. Recent work at the mine has focused on using mine waste to construct an ash storage facility to store ash that is piped over 5 km from the power station as a dense phase slurry. The use of mine waste to construct the ash storage facility provides significant cost and time savings, however a range of design, construction and operation issues needed to be addressed to operate a facility of this type.
This paper describes some of the key design, construction and operation considerations for the ash storage facility. Design considerations include pipeline transport through environmentally sensitive areas, addressing the stability of the embankment and the use of a partial LLDPE geomembrane lining system to reduce the risk of seepage from the storage. Construction considerations include post construction (pre ash deposition) floor treatment to reduce potential settlement. Operational considerations include ash slurry deposition, water management of the decant pond and progressive rehabilitation of the final landform.
2011 – Design, Construction and Operation of a Partially Lined, Ash Storage Facility Constructed from Mine Waste
Kirsty Carroll, Kelly Maslin, Richard Rodd
Melbourne Water manages over 210 retarding basins across Greater Melbourne ranging in size from 4ML to 4700 ML with embankment heights from 0.3m to 10m. Over the years the basins have been designed and constructed by a range of different owners and authorities. Varying design and construction standards with the majority of retarding basins generally being located in highly urbanised areas, has resulted in Melbourne Water having a large portfolio of assets that have potential to pose a significant risk to the downstream communities they are designed to protect.
High level hazard category assessments completed over the last10 years identified that approximately 90 structures were either High or Extreme hazard categories based on the ANCOLD Guidelines on Assessment of the Consequences of Dam Failure.
In an attempt to identify retarding basins requiring priority consideration for remedial works Melbourne Water embarked on a process of completing a dam safety risk assessment for five of the retarding basins in accordance with the ANCOLD Guidelines on Risk Assessment. The objective of the risk assessment was to develop an understanding of the key risk issues that might affect retarding basins as distinct from water supply storages, identify potential remedial works and develop a prioritised risk management strategy for the five basins considered. In completing the risk assessment there was also significant discussion about ways to streamline the process to allow assessment of the remaining basins.
This paper details the results obtained from the risk assessment, investigates the application of the base safety condition and implementation of a risk management strategy. It also looks at similarities between sites to enable common upgrades to be implemented across the range of retarding basins. This paper also discusses the need for guidelines specific to retarding basins to be developed.
How do you solve a problem like retarding basins? An asset owner’s perspective
Rod Westmore, Andrew George& Robert Wilson
A 2007 risk assessment of Hume Dam concluded that the dam did not satisfy the ANCOLD societal risk criteria for existing dams. The Spillway Southern Junction (SSJ) and its associated failure modes was one of the main contributors to the risk profile.
Upgrade works at the SSJ involved the retro-installation of additional filter and drainage materials in the 40m high embankment immediately downstream of the tower block and central core wall by installation of more than 10,000m of secant caisson drilled columns backfilled with filter and/or drainage materials.
This paper describes the design and construction issues associated with the upgrade works, the equipment and methodologies developed to achieve the principal design objectives of coverage and connectivity of filter and drainage columns, and optimisation of compaction of the backfill materials. It also describes how these requirements were met whilst minimising adverse affects such as vertical deviation, excessive vibration, subsidence of secant filter columns during construction, and clay smearing of the perimeter of individual columns.
Hume Dam Spillway Southern Junction Filter and Drainage Works