Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X
FOURIE, A.B.. Perceived and realized benefits of paste and thickened tailings for surface deposition. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2012, vol.112, n.11, suppl., pp.919-926. ISSN 2411-9717.
Interest in the potential use of high-density, thickened tailings has recently increased significantly. Reasons for considering this new technology vary across projects, but commonly include the need to conserve water, perceived lower risk of catastrophic failure, potential easier closure, or even reduced overall costs. As with any new technology, there has been some tendency to overstate its potential benefits. This paper reflects on whether or not the potential benefits that have been attributed to paste and thickened tailings have been realized. Using a grading system, thirteen benefits that were ascribed to the new technology some years ago are evaluated. Data is taken from case studies, and it is suggested that the key proven benefits appear to be reduced operating costs in some cases, reduced wall-building costs, and reductions in water consumption. One key potential benefit that has not been universally achieved is a reduction in the footprint of the tailings facility. Reports in the literature highlight the sometimes confusing nature of trade-off studies. Unless full life-of-mine costs are considered, these studies can be misleading and incorrect. The need to establish a consistent basis for comparative studies is discussed.
Keywords : high-density; tailings; benefits; costs; water consumption..