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MEI Online: Solid-Liquid Separation: Conference Reports: Paste 2003


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Paste 2003 International Seminar - effective tailings management is the core of generating a sustainable mining industry
Melbourne, Australia,
May 14-16, 2003

Perth based, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG) was pleased to present the International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings (P&TT) in Melbourne, 14 - 16 May 2003. Over 150 local and international personnel attended the event that was held at the Sheraton Towers Southgate.

Economic and environmental considerations and ‘visual’ preoccupations have seen industry prioritise mine residue disposal. The last few years have witnessed a growing interest in environmentally superior alternatives to conventional tailings storage and facilities. Paste and thickened tailings provides an opportunity to reduce the potential risk of an unplanned release by reducing the volume of water reporting to the tailings storages and indeed to eliminate conventional water retention in tailings storage facilities.

Organised by the ACG, in collaboration with Particulate Fluids Processing Centre (PFPC) of The University of Melbourne, this highly topical and relevant event was an overwhelming success. The seminar was designed to equip attendees with a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of paste and thickened tailings and provide a forum to question the ‘experts’.

Feedback indicated that the event succeeded in both the scope and depth of sessions, expositions presented, and in the dialogues, discussions and interest generated during the luncheons and dinner.

The seminar was truly an international affair, with delegates from South Africa, Canada, U.S.A., Chile, The Netherlands, Botswana, U.K., and Germany.

As Melbourne turned on its Autumn charm, the 155 industry practitioners, consultants, researchers and suppliers were offered an introduction from Lead Organiser, Richard Jewell, ACG Senior Consultant, followed by a global overview of environmental policy implementation presented by Professor Bob Watts, Chief Scientist & Vice President - Technology, BHP Billition.

The first day then focussed on the environmental advantages that the evolution of paste and thickened tailings has generated. Gary Bentel (WMC Resources) and Don Glenister (Alcoa Alumina) presented detailed overviews of environmental technology in practice at their respective operations. Paste technology has the potential to generate enormous benefits and reduced risks in the key areas of mine safety, environmental and production costs. A sound understanding of the composition, transportation and deposition of mine tailings is crucial for each operation’s unique disposal and storage facility.

Mark Coghill from Rio Tinto Technical Services opened day two of the seminar with a keynote address outlining the dominant concern in the industry regarding water saving and the challenges industry faces to implement thickener technology. Coghill says that many university and government organisations expect the mining industry to continue funding their research requirements without really understanding its needs, time frame or the deliverables. “This failure has delayed the implementation of technology and can lead to reductions in future research funding:"

Day two continued with further examination of case studies from Pajingo Joint Venture, Albian Sands (Alberta) and BHP Cannington. The topical issues of the development of equipment and chemical additives and state-of-the-art back fill technology were explored. A total of some 14 highly relevant case studies highlighting various aspects of P&TT technology were presented during the seminar.

The presentations on the final day included an evaluation of the real costs and benefits of paste technology. Briony Ruse (PFPC) encouraged the delegates to discuss the challenges industry faced when determining the costs of a disposal facility. Ruse says that tailings disposal methods such as dry tailings disposal methods, are not being widely adopted due to the perceived high cost of implementation. “Full Cost Accounting methods present industry with the means to financially manage tailings disposal. The use of these accounting techniques would preclude the need for environmental bonds and would increase the confidence of stakeholders that all costs associated with tailings were properly anticipated and accounted for."

The seminar concluded with Richard Jewell and David Boger (PFPC) overseeing dynamic debate and discussion from the attendees.

Those attending then departed to the four corners of the world having gained a shared knowledge and further insight into the tailings interests of their industry and research peers. The seminar succeeded in increasing the awareness of paste technology by introducing many attendees to the strengths and limitations of this relatively new technology.

The ACG was enabled to host this event with the generous support of its sponsors, namely, Alcan International Ltd, GL & V Australia and Australian Mining Consultants.

The global demand for information about the management of tailings facilities and continued success of the International Paste and Thickened Tailings Seminar has resulted in planning of Paste 2004, to be held again in South Africa in April 2004.

To order copies of the Paste 2003 seminar proceedings (including CD ROM) and for further details about Paste 2004, please contact Josephine Ruddle - acg@acg.uwa.edu.au

Josephine Ruddle, Marketing Communications, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Email: acg@acg.uwa.edu.au




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