When an ore’s valuable deposit, such as copper or gold, is extracted, what remains of the ore is waste. Often, it is a high percentage of the ore handled at the mine. Potentially contaminated from the extraction process or containing environmentally harmful components, tailings must be isolated to prevent long-term environmental damage.
Design engineers working on mines must allot signifi cant space for proper containment of tailings. All or much of this area must be sealed with an impermeable geosynthetic (e.g., geomembrane) or composite lining system (e.g., geomembrane / geosynthetic clay liner). These sealing systems protect the base and walls of an impoundment. Often, the surface of the tailings will be covered by a geosynthetic system after cell or mine closure.
As mine sites increase in size, the engineering needed to properly contain the volume of tailings has intensifi ed. This scaling up of containment frequently requires not just lining systems but reinforcement and sealing systems for perimeter berms on tailings pond. Weaker, earthen-only berms are at risk of saturation, erosion, and failure.
Furthermore, the increasing depth of tailings storage ponds requires stronger containment engineering design. The geosynthetics used must be durable and proven in aggressive environments over the long term. The depth of a tailings pond might exceed 75 m, for example. In these cases, the contaminated, generally sludgy waste is too deep and hazardous for the lining and reinforcement system to be monitored. With the environmental security of the site relying on these environmental protection systems, the geosynthetics selected must be trusted.
NAUE Solutions for tailings management
Carbofol® high-density polyethylene (HDPE) geomembranes feature exceptional chemical, stress crack, and UV resistance. Their durability and chemical compatibility is well-supported by data and project records in tailings management.
Secutex® geotextiles provide long-term, robust protection of and frictional stability for geomembranes, berm filter control, slope stability, and more.
Secugrid® and Combigrid® geogrids offer high resistance to chemical and biological threats. Their homogenous flat bars and high-strength welded junctions offer long-term, robust reinforcement of soil structures.
Additionally, composite lining solutions (Carbofol® geomembranes with Bentofix® GCLs) provide efficient, longterm lining performance and exceptional environmental protection in tailings management installations.