Historical tailings impoundments may contain saturated semi-fluid materials at depth, long after tailings deposition has ceased and after surface reclamation has been completed. These saturated materials can liquefy and flow if the impoundment is compromised. A historical tailings pile can also present a risk to an underground mine development if there is potential for the mine development to generate a propagating zone of cracking and/or surface subsidence that ultimately interacts with the tailings impoundment. The risk of a sudden mudrush breach can be mitigated by using ground improvement techniques to reduce the potential for the tailings to flow.
This paper presents a case study for the New Afton Mine located in British Columbia, Canada. The opportunities to use best available technologies to reduce the risks associated with operating and closed tailings facilities are presented and discussed. The emphasis is on novel application of simple and proven technologies to efficiently and effectively stabilize the tailings to achieve the ultimate objectives for dam and mine safety.
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