The Asia Miner

OCT-DEC 2017

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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Volume 14 • Issue 4 | 2017 | ASIA Miner | 45 Tailings management is one of the most important factors for mining around the world. Experts must address and analyse the many different tailings characteristics listed, as well as the placement properties required in backfilling or typical tailings storage disposal. The WTC has the capability, besides pipeline and pump monitoring for pressure gra- dients and power draw, to develop and test tailings in mine con- struction products and bulk storage facility placed material. Based on this test work the WTC can determine the opportunities for total tailings utilisation, the processes required to produce tailings prod- ucts and the most suitable form of transportation. Weir Minerals is currently focused on transporting the final tailings product using pumps as the delivery method. "We have over 100 years' experience in pumping and pipeline infrastructure. When you combine that with our stress and transient analysis through the WTC and our extensive practical experience, we can offer customers a complete solution to minimise risk," says Nils Steward. A complete tailings solution may include a number of opportuni- ties, singly or severally - tailings bulk disposal in a tailings storage facility as a settling slurry of a 'dry pumped' product; backfilling as a hydraulic or paste product; or as a value added 'tailings as re- source' product. Tailings as a resource From the WTC, Weir Minerals can help customers to improve their tailings disposal in a safe and stable manner, as well as present alternative options for tailings utilisation. There are opportunities for mine sites to convert tailings into re- sourceful products. Sustainable development in mining can be ex- tended to the management and handling of tailings and there are multiple ways in which operators can positively reuse tailings. "We need to rethink the way we view tailings. Yes, tailings is a waste product, but this can also be used as a value added product for future resources. There are many opportunities to use tailings as a resource, and we are beginning to see a lot more demand for the use of tailings products in infrastructure," states John McNulty. The WTC has the technology and expertise to turn waste into useful products. By modifying tailings, the team has an excellent track record in creating a number of by-products including con- crete, shotcrete and support structures. "We have developed many alternative products from tailings - from the 200MPa tailings backfill integral to the innovative 'Drill and Fill' mining operations in South Africa to the 1km of a tailings based concrete road cast on a mine site to hold the weight of 30 tonne trucks that has been operational for over a year. We truly believe there is scope to produce a lot more tailings products in the future and will continue to research opportunities in which to do so," says John McNulty. Backfilling Backfilling involves the return of metallurgical tailings underground to fill the voids created by the mining process and is viewed as a sus- tainable way to reuse tailings for safety and support. Backfill usually comprises the metallurgical tailings that are dewatered plant tailings or a cyclone product that may include a cementitious component. Alternatively the metallurgical tailings may include sand or aggregate and can be used with or without cementitous binder components. The WTC can evaluate the suitability of various dewatering and thickening technologies for a specific application and, with their in- house global leadership expertise in backfill systems, can carry out the required design for the manufacturing process and reticulation systems. The WTC expertise covers the full spectrum of backfill systems from hydraulic to paste, and paste aggregate backfill. "We deal predominantly with high solids concentrations which is becoming more important in a water constrained and environmen- tally sensitive industry. Our depth of experience and knowledge to- gether with the delivery of innovative designs has provided effective solutions to meet our clients' needs around the world," says Nils Steward. The WTC can design backfill products that meet the placement and strength requirements of any mining application, from consoli- dated uncemented tailings, to high tech 200MPa backfill materials. This is achieved by testing the tailings materials before subsequent- ly developing the necessary backfill mix design. Weir Minerals has ambitious growth plans to globalise the WTC, planning to open up additional technical centres around the world to enhance the tailings offering for customers. Flow rates, temperatures, pressures, solid concentrations and power re- quirements can be monitored through the closed loop pipeline system.

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