Minerals & Metals

Tailings Management & Metal Recovery

At Ausenco, we specialise in the design of tailings management systems including:

  • Conventional wet tailings impoundments
  • Paste and thickened tailings
  • Deep sea tailings placement
  • Tailings transport and pipelines
  • Dry stacking of filtered tailings
  • Paste backfill preparation and distribution.

We have extensive experience in designing a variety of tailings storage facilities, including in difficult terrain and challenging climatic conditions. We have designed more than 100 tailings dams across the globe. Our track record includes tailings pipelines, storage dams and impoundments in wet and dry climates, at high elevations, in active seismic regions, and in remote mine locations.

Our projects include conventional surface deposition, submarine discharge (subsea or sub-lake), surface paste (high density tailings), cemented paste backfill (using the tailings for structural fill in underground mines), and dry stacking (surface disposal of filtered tailings).

We are at the forefront of the latest technologies and work with an exceptional team of geotechnical, hydrological, hydrogeological, environmental scientist and slurry process engineers to design optimum tailings management systems for our clients.

We have experience in Greenfield and Brownfield operations and frequently perform trade-off studies to determine the best technical/economic solution for the mine, with particular emphasis on water recovery and life of mine planning.

We have extensive expertise working with existing systems and making the necessary adjustments that are required as the operation matures.

This knowledge and experience ensures that we can successfully address a variety of client issues, including:

  • hydraulic recovery of sand for dam construction
  • hydraulic delivery of sand to construction areas
  • water recovery from impoundment
  • thickening of “fines” to minimise water content (maximise storage volume)
  • strategic planning for future operations (e.g., higher dam/ more distance to deposition).

Our tailings transport solutions include gravity flow, open-channel flow, energy dissipation, multiple pumps in series, and thickened paste disposal. We also offer our clients expertise in pipeline SCADA and telecommunications systems. Our specialties include developing SCADA solutions for remote locations—stand-alone, self-sustaining systems that require a minimum of local staff and maintenance.

Conventional wet tailings management

  • Site selection
  • Tailings storage facility (TSF) design and construction quality assurance
  • Materials selection including evaluation of tailings as a construction material
  • Water balance, water management and control structure design
  • Geotechnical, hydrological, hydraulic, hydrogeological, contaminate, and geohazard investigations and studies
  • Baseline, environmental and social impact assessments and permitting support
  • Geosynthetic and soil liner system evaluation and design
  • Geochemical and water quality assessment
  • Cyclone sand separation and distribution
  • Water reclaim system design.
  • Peer review and forensic investigations
  • Annual inspections and monitoring.

Paste and thickened tailings

  • Surface deposition
  • Underground hydraulic/paste backfill
  • Thickener selection
  • Distribution system design.

Deep sea tailings placement (DSTP)

  • Subsea tailings outfall pipeline design
  • Slurry seawater mixing tank
  • Seawater intake pipeline design
  • Subsea pipe burial and scouring protection
  • Ballast design
  • Tailings fate modelling
  • Risk analysis.

Tailing transport and pipelines

  • Single point discharge
  • Pump station design
  • Perimeter spigotting
  • Open channel flow (launder system)
  • Energy dissipation and drop box systems
  • Specialised designs for gravity flow

Dry stacking of filtered tailings

  • Filtration plant configuration and design
  • Tailings filtration studies
  • Water recovery
  • Haul distance / placement strategy
  • Materials handling and stacking systems.

Paste backfill preparation and placement

  • Underground hydraulic/paste backfill
  • Thickener selection
  • Paste preparation plant and transport system
  • Distribution system design.