Suitability of the Central Thickened Discharge Method for Nickel Tailings Disposal in Western Australia

Ennis P C,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1996
The Mt Keith ultramafic intrusive extends for about 200 kilometres from Agnew in the south to Wiluna in the north. It forms the host for a number of nickel sulphide orebodies including Mt Keith and Honeymoon Well. Long fibre minerals are associated with the orebodies. The presence of these minerals impacts on the issue of tailings disposal from several standpoints, particularly the slurry beaching properties and dust generation from dry beaches. Central thickened discharge (CTD) is an innovative method of tailings disposal that involves stacking tailings in a low conical hill instead of storing them in cells. In appropriate circumstances this leads to savings in capital costs and operating expenditure. The method was introduced to Australia in 1981, and is currently employed at four operating mines, Elura and Peak Gold, both at Cobar in NSW, McArthur River in the Northern Territory, and Union Reefs near Pine Creek, also in the Northern Territory. It is the proposed method for Century Zinc and Ernest Henry, both in Queensland. The paper describes laboratory test work and design parameters for the application of the method to tailings disposal at Honeymoon Well and compares them with comparable data for other CTD systems. Of particular relevance for design purposes are beach slope, density, and water recovery. Wind tunnel tests were conducted on the Honeymoon Well tailings samples to investigate dust generation from the dry beach surface and it was concluded that dust generation from an undisturbed beach would not occur because of crusting.
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