Sustainable solutions for tailings treatment

It means that instead of pumping untreated tailings from the concentrator into tailing ponds, the sand is dewatered to a point that it does not segregate as deposit.

Outotec is one of the few companies in the world that can offer paste thickening solutions to the mineral industries in one package. Outotec?s expertise in paste technology springs from the company?s long experience of minerals and metals processing technology.

?Paste technology is now widely acknowledged and at the moment Outotec has ongoing paste projects all over the world,? Outotec?s technology sales manager of paste and backfill solutions Anders Nystr?m said.

?Using paste technology the tailings form a conical pile and do not need big ponds to be stored in. This means that the disposal area is much smaller compared to conventional tailing ponds and the danger of leakage is minimal.?

Nystr?m got involved with paste technology when he was leading a project aiming at minimising the area needed for tailings disposal at a mine in Canada in 2002.

?The mine was not allowed to extend the tailing ponds but could use the existing tailing pond by placing the paste tailings on top of the existing tailings. This was possible only by using paste technology.?


Nystr?m said the mining and quarrying industries faced growing challenges globally on how to use water efficiently, how to recover and recirculate water and how to reduce the areas needed for tailings storage.

?That?s why the market for new sustainable solutions for tailings treatment is growing,? he added.

{{image2-a:r-w:200}}?Since the water from the tailings is efficiently recovered using paste technology, the water can be used over and over again. This makes the technology attractive, especially in dry regions.?

He also pointed out that paste technology makes it much easier to restore the landscape in a safe way after a mine is closed.

?We are now investigating the possibility of adding fertilisers and seed to the tailings through the paste plant some time before the mine will be closed down.

?This way the restoration process needs very little extra work. By using this method the closure process can be started in good time, saving time and money and in an environmental way, improving the closure process.?


With the acquisition in 2012 of the Australian company Backfill Specialists, Outotec now offers even more comprehensive tailings treatment solutions to mining and quarrying customers worldwide.

?Paste backfill is mainly used to stabilise underground excavations,? the head of Outotec?s paste and backfill solutions business Mathew Revell said.

?It means that a mix of paste and cement is pumped into previously mined stopes to form a rock solid material.?

The paste backfill supports, for example, the walls of adjacent adits as mining progresses.

?This way the mine can be utilised to a maximum since it makes it possible to mine all of the ore deposit,? Revell added. ?The paste backfill can also serve as a working platform in a mine. In short, by using paste backfill the mines can be utilised more efficiently and, above all, safely.?

Since the cost of the binding material is essential for the competitiveness of paste backfilling, Outotec?s expertise in optimising the consistency of the paste can be crucial.

?The mix variables must always be optimised to provide a backfill material that exactly meets the demands of the individual project,? Revell said.

?With this knowledge accessible it is possible for us to develop more efficient and more cost-effective backfilling solutions than ever before.? ?

Source: Outotec

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