Is the Implementation of Dry Stacking for Tailings Storage Increasing? A Southern African Perspective

Is the Implementation of Dry Stacking for Tailings Storage Increasing? A Southern African Perspective

Authors: Andrew Copeland1, Veronique Daigle2, Andries Strauss1
Conference:  25th International Conference on Paste, Thickened and Filtered Tailings
Date: April 29-May 3, 2023

1 Knight Piésold, South Africa
2 Knight Piésold, Namibia


It is good practice in the early phases of a new mine design, or when a new tailings storage facility (TSF) is required at an existing mine, to consider alternatives and carry out trade-off studies for tailings storage. These studies should include multiple sites and at least two disposal methods or technologies with the aim of identifying the best tailings management system for the project, generally the most cost-effective, socially and environmentally acceptable system. Dry stacking is gaining credibility and is seen as a preferred technology to manage project specific risks for various reasons: lower risk of failure, increased water conservation and water cost saving, project stakeholders and environmental considerations, better geochemical mitigation, and possible improvement in metal recovery during filtration through additional mineral dissolution. In some cases, the drivers for considering dry stacking are obvious, such as a mine located in a dry climate or new regulations, but in other places this is less obvious.

This paper evaluates the outcomes of a number of such trade-off studies mostly in Southern Africa or arid regions of Africa, which include:

  • Whether dry stacking was recommended for consideration in the next phase of the project or not, and why.
  • If dry stacking was recommended, whether it was taken forward to implementation or not.

The paper also looks at two mines where filtered tailings has been implemented, their overall TSF operating and stability performance, as well as opportunities and challenges of the technology. No names of the mines are included, as the focus is on whether there is an increased move towards dry stacking, and what obstacles are being experienced.


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