Developments in Coal Mine Tailings Disposal and Rehabilitation

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 19
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1991
The conventional approach to the disposal of fine coal mine tailings, which involves piping the tailings as an aqueous slurry to a storage where they remain in the form of a permanent wet deposit, is becoming unacceptable. This approach is a legacy of a "contain and forget" mentality, which has economic advantages only in the short term. In the longer term, wet tailings deposits occupy large areas of land and present extreme rehabilitation difficulties. Alternative tailings disposal systems, which are sustainable and which facilitate rehabilitation, are required. The possible alternatives include the mechanical dewatering of fine tailings prior to disposal in combination with coarse reject, tailings disposal into spoil pile valleys, and the combined pumping to disposal of tailings and coarse reject. The most appropriate choice of fine tailings disposal strategy will vary from mine site to mine site. The chosen strategy should be optimised to meet increasingly stringent environmental requirements, within the constraints imposed by each mine. The alternative approaches represent significant departures from past practices, and require considerable industry driven research and development before they can be adopted with confidence. All three alternatives involve mixing of the fine tailings and coarse waste streams, aimed at creating a mixture of reasonable engineering properties. Understanding the engineering behaviour of such mixtures is central to the success of these alternative disposal strategies.
Full Article Download:
(1094 kb)