Tailings Dam Design – Technology Update (ICOLD bulletin)

December 10, 2020

Mine tailings are produced after crushing, grinding and processing, to recover the ore minerals. This paper will focus on the management of tailings and the changes in evolving technologies that also continue to be a focus of the regulatory and environmental communities. The Bulletin acts as a reference guideline to improve knowledge on developments and trends in design, operation and closure of tailings dams for both tailings dam engineers and a wide audience of stakeholders: owners, regulators, communities etc. While it is not a design guide document, it does serve as a technology update to improve the practice of tailings dam engineers. The authors emphasize that design and operation of tailing dams should be performed by qualified and experienced professionals and that all tailings dam designs are different. Tailings dam designs need to incorporate the site specific conditions, such as climate, physiography, geochemistry, geomorphology, mining processes, etc. and the application of selected technologies plays an important role in developing safe, sustainable tailings dams. The Bulletin, and this paper, will cover three main subjects: tailings properties, tailings technologies and design practices, with examples and good practices will be discussed. McLeod, H. and A. Bjelkevik. 2017. “Tailings Dam Design: Technology Update (ICOLD Bulletin),” in Proceedings of the 85th Annual Meeting of International Commission on Large Dams, July 3-7, 2017. Prague, Czech Republic: Czech National Committee on Large Dams.