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MEI Online: Solid-Liquid Separation: Conference Reports: Paste 2007


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Paste 2007
Perth, Australia, March 13-15, 2007

Perth based Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG) presented the 10th International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings (P&TT) in Perth, Western Australia. More than 260 local and international paste and thickened tailings practitioners, researchers and suppliers attended the event that was held at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle.

Economic and environmental considerations and ‘risk minimisation’ 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 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. An increasing number of operations have now adopted P&TT and are thickening their tailings before disposal. In 1999, about three mining operations were actively using P&TT. Today more than 25 operations have embraced this technology worldwide.

Organised by the ACG Paste07 was an overwhelming success. The seminar equipped attendees with a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of paste and thickened tailings and provided a forum to question the ‘experts’.

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

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

As Perth turned on its Autumn charm, the 260 industry practitioners, consultants, researchers and suppliers were given industry perspectives from Graham Ehm, regional head - Australia, AngloGold Ashanti Australia Ltd, and Gary Bentel, geotechnical manager, BHP Billiton. This was followed by a Keynote address on “Improving the Sustainability of Residue Management Practices” by David Cooling, residue manager, Alcoa World Alumina.

The first day then examined the challenges of thickening tailings for deposition and included presentations from leading suppliers and consultancies including Outokumpu Technology and Paterson and Cooke Consulting Engineers, South Africa. Paste technology has the potential to generate enormous benefits and reduced risks in the key areas of mine safety, and 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.

The afternoon session focussed on state-of-the-art paste backfill applications in the mining industry.

Lionel Pullum opened day two of the seminar with a Keynote address reviewing the various hydraulic transport methods applicable to high concentration suspensions like paste and backfill materials. Pullum noted that increasing environmental and economic pressures on tailings disposal will see more high concentration disposal becoming commonplace in industry. “A greater understanding of these materials will require more detailed studies of the flow behaviour of the more representative pastes and the development of suitable instrumentation to monitor them”. Pullum also said that “pumps will need to be improved if they are to efficiently place these materials underground”.

Day two continued with an examination on rheology’s application and impact on paste and thickened tailings. The topical issues of measurement techniques, and the rheology associated with thickening, pumping and storage were explored. Several highly relevant papers by some of the world’s leading experts including Fiona Sofra, Particulate Fluids Processing Centre, The University of Melbourne, and Rainer Haldenwang, Cape Peninsula University, South Africa, highlighted the importance of rheology to this relatively new technology. The evolution of paste technology has witnessed the need to understand and utilise the benefits of rheology. The scope of rheology extends to minerals processing, especially in relation to the performance of grinding, beneficiation, detwatering, mixing, autoclave, pumping, tailings and backfill operations. For some operations, the benefits of fluid performance under stress and the cost reduction strategies offered are often overlooked despite rheology’s presence in all aspects of minerals processing.

The presentations on the final day included a review of the affordability and challenges of surface disposal. Ciba Specialty Chemicals’ Stephen Adkins noted that “thickeners have become more efficient and flocculants more effective and the production of high density pastes is now possible with the developments in the mechanical systems that can both produce and pump high density material. These advances have aided the development of thickened tailings thus reducing operating costs." The afternoon session saw papers presented on operational experiences with case studies from Barrick Osborne Mine, Australia and Hazlewood Power Station.

The seminar concluded with Richard Jewell, ACG, and Harley Lacy, Outback Ecology Services, facilitating an interactive forum on the key issues in tailings management.

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 able to host this event with the generous support of its key sponsors, namely, Outokumpu Technology Pty Ltd, Dorr Oliver-Eimco and Golder Associates,

The global demand for information about the management of tailings facilities and continued success of the International Paste and Thickened Tailings Seminars has resulted in planning of Paste 2008, to be held Botswana in May 2008.

To order copies of the Paste 2007 Seminar Proceedings and the Paste and Thickened Tailings - A Guide (Second Edition), and for further details about Paste 2008, please contact Josephine Ruddle - acg@acg.uwa.edu.au

Josephine Ruddle, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, acg@acg.uwa.edu.au




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