Designer Tailings: A Life Cycle Approach to Tailings Management

Designer Tailings is a science and evidence-based methodology for generating alternate operating options for the desired environmental outcomes.  Through a detailed knowledge of the ore properties and processing conditions, and a mathematical simulation of the processing operations, Designer Tailings can predict the likely nature of the tailings generated, potential environmental liabilities and/or opportunities for reuse, recycling and reprocessing tailings.  We have been able, for example, to follow the geochemical pathways of arsenic from source ore to the receiving environments for a porphyry copper deposit. 

Designer Tailings

The framework provides a means for integrating the expertise of the relevant engineering and scientific experts (geology, mineral processing, environmental scientists, and operation managers) to identify holistic operating options for improved tailings outcomes.  The environmental implications of each option are compared by identifying the relative differences between the options and the Base Case, using indicators such as water quality.  The methodology can be used at any phase of an operation’s life cycle: development, operations and closure planning.  

Project members

Mansour Edraki

Dr Mansour Edraki

Senior Research Fellow
SMI-CMLR