Last week I gave the presentation Dredging Fine Tailings at the two-day 2021 Mine Waste and Tailings Conference in Australia. Hosted by the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM), the online conference welcomed 340 delegates from around the world. in2Dredging was happy to participate in this technical conference that explored aspects of the waste rock and tailings management lifecycle.
As one of the many technical presentations, in2Dredging addressed matters such as dredging, transportation and placement of fine tailings. Based on a paper written with in2Dredging Engineering Consultant Ben Anderson, I also discussed issues that affect the cost-effectiveness of processing fine tailings. I discussed in some detail the quality of tailings, dredge selection and the bottlenecks encountered in the dredging production process.
Tailings are a result of processing and may need to be relocated to Tailing Storage Facilities (TSF) using dredging. There are specific challenges in dredging fine tailings from an above ground storage facility for transferral to a mined-out pit. Understanding dredgeability assessments is critical, as assessments can vary significantly depending on the stiffness of the fine tailings. Furthermore, in2Dredging has always believed that the dredge chosen for a specific project should provide the best possible production rates. This means that the selected dredge should be the most cost-effective over a project’s entire lifespan, once all potential bottlenecks or production limiting factors have been considered.
Other key points discussed included continuous improvement using performance monitoring and proper equipment selection to be able to meet schedules. In addition, options regarding the maintenance and operation of dredges were also addressed in quite some detail. I finished by sharing some valuable insights and lessons learnt about the behaviour of fine tailings, dredging production and more. As we do at in2Dredging, I identified common issues and provided cost‑effective solutions to current and future dredging challenges.