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Unpacking TSF Challenges and Solutions

Publication: Mining Review Africa
Issue: August 2017

Water management is and will remain one of the primary challenges on any mine. As legislation grows increasingly stringent and corporate standards constantly improve, it is becoming more and more difficult and costly to adequately manage water within tailings storage facility (TSF) circuits. ANDRIES STRAUSS, sector manager: mining for Level 2 BBBEE environment consulting specialist Knight Piésold, discusses some of these challenges and demonstrates some of its expert solutions offerings through a number of recent projects.

"Following major TSF failures in recent years, a lot more emphasis is being placed on understanding the risks posed by large TSFs. In most cases, the primary driver of these failures is linked to mismanagement of water, or not adequately providing for extreme rainfall events. Carrying out detailed dam breach assessments for these facilities are becoming far more common as a result,” Strauss explains.

Unfortunately, in most cases, dam breach assessments are inherently uncertain due to the vast number of assumptions. Current software deals well with Newtonian fluids (water) but not as yet the heavily solids laden water (non-Newtonian fluids) that fl ow during a TSF breach. Knight Piésold has developed an inhouse procedure based on state-of-the-art knowledge and understanding of this phenomenon.

“Understanding the water balance of the TSF and the greater mine is critical to making operational and business decisions affecting water management. Knight Piésold has developed countless water balance models for projects all over the world, ranging from simple spreadsheet based models to advanced probabilistic models using GoldSim or similar software,” Copeland points out.

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