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Managing Tailings in the Australian Mining Industry

Tailings are an inevitable by-product of any mining process, and as such the management of tailing ponds and other forms of tailings storage facility (TSF) is essential to the ongoing operation of the industry, as it impacts on workplace and environmental safety, cost effectiveness and overall efficiency.

Why the effective management of tailings is important

Tailings material is usually transported and discharged into a TSF as slurry, and while this will generally be similar in make up to the material from which it was extracted, the physical or chemical separation processes to which it has been subjected can mean changes to its risk profile and properties.

TSFs therefore need to be designed and operated so that tailings can safely achieve sedimentation and consolidation, while also facilitating desludging without this process having a detrimental effect on the environment.

The obligations on the mining and processing industry in this respect are made clear by the Australian government in its guidelines Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry: “The basic requirement of a TSF is to provide safe, stable, non-polluting and economical storage of tailings, presenting negligible public health and safety risks, and acceptably low social and environmental impacts during its operation and after mine closure.”

These requirements clearly have important implications for the mining and processing industry with regard to how tailing ponds and other TSFs are operated and managed.

Dredging is a highly effective tailings management solution

For mining industry operators, dredging and dewatering of tailing ponds is a solution that not only supports high performance, safety and efficiency, but also adds value through facilitating the recovery and processing of waste, as opposed to simply disposing of it. This is because dredging can be used as a means of recovering materials contained in the slurry in TSFs and then sending them for further reprocessing.

The benefits to this approach include adding value through the recycling of waste materials into a potential product that can be processed, along with enhanced environmental performance, as ultimately less waste is being produced.

How dredging is used to manage and recover tailings

Dredges are a highly effective tool in all types of mining setting, including both lined and unlined tailing ponds and dams, as well as deep open pits. They are highly adaptive and versatile, making dredges suitable for use in dewatering and/or the recovery of materials for reprocessing from almost any type of slurry tailings.

However, in order to achieve this, dredges need to be equipped with suitable dredge pumps or submersible slurry pumps that have the capacity, strength and durability to disaggregate and remove sediments in high concentration slurries that are likely to contain abrasives such as gravel, sand, silt or a variety of other debris.

In addition, having the right sort of pump in place in conjunction with a dredge is the ideal solution to minimise labour and maintenance costs, support workplace safety, as well as to increase overall efficiency through ensuring tailing ponds are able to operate at maximum capacity.

Pumping and dredging solutions for the mining industry

At FITT Resources, we supply a comprehensive range of Dragflow dredges and pumps which are ideal for use in Australian mining applications.

Dragflow DRF dredges

The Dragflow DRF series of mini dredges are cost effective to use, easy to transport, and versatile enough to be put to work in a wide range of mining and mineral processing applications.

The small draft means they can be used in tailing ponds and other stretches of shallow water, while the wired remote control system contributes to operator safety.

In addition, the DRF pontoon can also be customised to meet specific pumping and dewatering requirements.

Australian Dragflow DRF30 Mini Dredgers

Dragflow DRH dredges

DRH series cable dredges are ideal for dewatering in mining TSFs, as well as reservoirs and other challenging applications.

They can be equipped with wide range of Dragflow hydraulic pumps and can be easily operated by a single operator, and are especially useful for working in and around tailing ponds as DRH dredges are simple to assemble and transport. 

Australian Dragflow DRH Dredges

Dragflow DRP dredges

Dragflow DRP radio-controlled dredges are designed to be used in challenging applications, and can be mounted with a wide range of Dragflow electric pumps.

As they have remote control capability, DRP dredges are safe and easy to operate. Straightforward assembly also makes then the ideal solution for use in difficult to access locations, particularly mining tailing ponds, harbours and industrial basins.

Dragflow dredge pumps and submersible slurry pumps

Dragflow produces a range of dredge pumps and submersible slurry pumps that can be used across all types of mining application.

The conditions under which pumps are required to operate in tailing ponds means that there is high potential for failure, as the slurry can contain a variety of different solids and abrasives which can be difficult to handle without the appropriate equipment.

Dragflow dredge pumps and submersible slurry pumps are built to be used in these and other difficult dewatering applications, and the robust construction means they can stand up to challenges often associated with slurry pumping, such as overheating and pipe blockage.

Read more about the range of submersible heavy duty agitator pumps, super duty and high head electric pumps and hydraulic dredge pumps FITT Resources can supply to the Australian mining sector.

Australian Dragflow DRP Dredges

Contact FITT Resources for tailings management solutions

To learn more about our range of Dragflow dredgers and submersible pumps suitable for use in tailing ponds and other mining applications, contact Head of Dewatering Chris Molloy on 0404 483 998 or email [email protected].

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