Sunday, 2 January 2011

The stability of tailings dams

In the wake of the recent red mud disaster in Hungary comes an opportune paper from China on the stability of tailings dams.

Yin et al (Minerals Engineeering Volume 24 Number 2, 2011) present a paper on the stability analysis of a copper tailings dam via laboratory model tests.

Currently in China there are more than 12, 000 tailings impoundments and almost 95% of them use the upstream method for the construction of the dam. Statistical data has shown that the tailings impoundment is one of the main sources of risk in the mining industry. Failures of tailings impoundments have resulted in the loss of many lives, considerable property damage, and irreversible pollution in downstream areas. Therefore, the safety of tailings management facilities has been of increasing concern to governments and local communities. For the stability analysis of tailings dams, the accurate profile of the dam is very important. The profiles are easily obtained for both active and decommissioned tailings facilities because their data can be collected through field investigations. However, collecting basic data from newly constructed tailings facilities is difficult.

In their paper, Yin et al present a laboratory physical model test. The construction process for new tailings impoundments has been physically simulated in the laboratory, where the tailings particle composition and distribution below a beach, the change of phreatic surface of the dam, and the engineering properties of the tailings of the dam profiles have been measured. A new tailings facility, Yangtianqin tailings impoundment, owned by Tongchang copper mine of Yuxi Mine Co., was used as a case study to illustrate the physical modeling of the tailings dam.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this article that I will read soon. Few data are available on the subject.


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