EMED Tartessus is planning to re-open the historically active Rio Tinto Mine located approximately 70 km northwest of Seville, Spain. The mine has an estimated copper reserve of 123 Mt, with a proposed initial production rate of 5 Mtpa ramping up to 9 Mtpa after 2.5 years with an approximate 15-year mine life.
Knight Piésold was retained to undertake a preliminary review of the current tailings storage facility (TSF) expansion plans, existing data collection, and design work. The TSF location consists of three adjoined areas: Cobre, Aguzadera, and Gossan. Under previous mining operations, TSF embankment raises on the Cobre and Aguzadera facilities were permitted; however, the permitted raises are not capable of storing the full reserve (123 Mt) and additional expansion will be required to store the balance of tailings.
The existing TSF expansion plans were the product of several years of design modifications resulting from regulator design reviews and permitting constraints. The outcome of a gap analysis performed by Knight Piésold identified that some areas required some additional design focus, and/or due diligence review, as the existing expansion plan had a number of potential design issues surrounding water management, geotechnical stability, constructability/operations, and closure. A conceptual alternative of a high density solids retention facility (HDSRF) was therefore developed by Knight Piésold to mitigate these design issues. This would be developed as a staged expansion for increasing storage capacities (48 Mt, 123 Mt, and 200 Mt).