Archive for the ‘About the news’ Category


To end the week, here are a few unrelated postings on the web about things mining.

At this link, David Stockman of North American Business Development gives an interview on the topic Dry Tailings Stack vs Wet Tailings Pond.  Make sure to click on the rather obscure play buttons to hear him tell how Mt Polley could have been avoided had it been a dry stack and not a wet pond.

At this link is a video showing Pascal Saunier and family singing.  Pascal is of Draintube fame and was one of the presenters at this week’s conference on Geosynthetics in Mining.

At this link, available for download is RepRisk’s report on the Ten Most Controversial Mining Projects.  Mt Polley and Obed Mountain of Canada are included.  Here is what they say of Obed Mountain in case you forgot about this one>

On October 31, 2013, 670,000 cubic meters of coal slurry from the Obed Mountain thermal coal mine owned by
Sherritt International polluted the Athabasca River in Alberta, Canada with shale and coal particles. The Alberta
Environment Ministry and the Alberta Energy Regulator have launched independent investigations to determine the
environmental and health impacts caused by the incident, which may be the second biggest spill of its kind in North
American history. It has polluted 25 kilometers of the river; allegedly impacted drinking water in ten municipalities;
and could affect fish reproduction and therefore put indigenous livelihoods and recreational fishing at risk.

Finally, I got the following email with an attached Infographic which I cannot reproduce here due to my technical limitations.  If you go to their site, you maybe can download it.

My name is Tom and I am the marketing manager of a company called MW Hire Group.  I was browsing your website and thought that you may be perhaps interested in publishing the attached infographic about “The World’s Largest Diggers” on your site as I think your readers would find it quite interesting.

“The increasing demand for basic commodities has driven up prices and spurred a global mining boom, but it is not an easy task to get them from mines because big layers of rock have to be moved first. Our infographic contains detail of some heavy machines around the world that can make task easy because they are fast, efficient, and reliable.”

If you do decide to publish it, all I request is that you provide a link to my site http://www.mwhire.com/teleporters-for-sale-or-hire/  in the post in which you publish it. If you have any queries at all about the graphic, let me know as I would be delighted to explain.

Enjoy these and have a good weekend.


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A little bit more on the failure of that tailings facility in Brazil from some-one on the ground:

The accident was in a very small mine close to Belo. It was an old tailings dam that was not  supposed to be in operation anymore. But they decide to pile dried tailings on top of it. I don’t have technical details about the failure but I guess it is very similar to a previous one I took you to see. At the moment of the failure, equipment was working at the same point. That’s the reason for the deaths. It is going to take some time for us to get the conclusions about the real cause of the accident. But, as soon as I get some more information I will let you know.

Thanks to this fellow for letting us know.

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We have just finished the InfoMine Conference on geosynthetics in mining.  I think it was a success although I had better await the evaluation forms before coming to definitive conclusions.

The proceedings will be available through the InfoMine e-Store at this link.  In my opinion, this is a magnificent collection of papers on a topic that has long cried for detailed, focussed attention.

For the use of geosynthetics in mining is different to the use of geosynthetics in landfills and other civil engineering application.  The mining projects that involve the use of geosynthetics are orders of magnitude larger than any other category of projects.  The challenges are greater: there are few precedents; there are no substantive regulations; and the consequences of use and misuse are greater.

Bob Bacchus reminded us that the failure of an ash tailings impoundment caused a sea-change in methods of disposal: extensive use of geosynthetics and the placement of solid, not fluid, wastes.

Maybe the mining industry right now faces the same sea-change,   Maybe from now on the only acceptable forms of mining will involve heap leaching—which involves extensive use of geosynthetics—or the placement of filter-pressed tailings in conjunction with geosynthetic liners, covers, and leak detection system.  Maybe mining will have to go the way that solid waste landfill and ash disposal has been force to go as a result of failures.  Whatever, we believe that the innovative use of geosynthetics in mining is going to explode and expand.

It will be a difficult market for the manufacturers, suppliers, and installers of geosynthetics.  Mines and mining employees seldom choose or buy the geosynthetics.  It is the consultants who control the choice of geosynthetics and it is the contractors who controls the purchase of geosynthetics in mining.  Quite different from landfill and civil projects.  Much adjustment is needed and those who make the adjustment will succeed.

There is a plethora of geosynthetics products on the market.  Most are good and many are amazingly innovative.  The challenge for engineers is to understand the potential, choose the appropriate product, and construct the mining structures that are cost-effective because of the smart incorporation of geosynthetics.  Read the papers of this conference as a start, and then march to success on the basis of knowledge, calculations, and judgment.

I must thank the manufactures, suppliers, and installers of geosynthetics whose support made this conference possible.  I must thank the keynote speakers who gave of their valuable time to inform us.  And I must thank those who wrote papers and presented the papers to our edification and delight.  I am confident in saying this was a first and valuable gathering of people who can make mining better and more cost-effective in the future.  And whose products and work can make mining possible while protecting the environment.  What more could one ask?

I am assured that all the manufacturers, suppliers, and installers of geosynthetics at mines are listed in the InfoMine database at this link.  Please consult and contact these folk if you intend to use geosynthetics at your mine.

Obviously at the conference the failures at Mt Polley and in Brazil were topics of discussion at the coffee breaks and lunch and dinner.  Opinions differed, but all concurred that the failures point to the need for a new way of managing mine waste.  And many of the new ways involve smarter use of geosynthetics.

Thus a challenge to the engineers, consultants, manufacturers, suppliers, and installer of geosynthetics:  Make continued mining possible, responsible, and profitable by coming up with good ways to use geosynthetics in mining.  I am confident it can be done.  I know it will not be easy; it will not be immediate; it will involve much argument; and it may involve failures.  But we must proceed.  We must innovate.  And we must succeed, for that is the way to make our current life-styles sustainable.

This is grand language and grand thought.  It is grand ambition and grand challenge.  And it is premised on human ingenuity and plastics.  Yet I am confident it can be done:  use geosynthetics in mining to make mining responsible & sustainable at reasonable cost.  What fun and fanfare await us as we finger a plastic sheet, push a pencil into a geomembrane, pull a geotextile, gaze in awe at a triaxial geogrid, and shuffle through innumerable brochures of pretty pictures.  But the aims are honorable, the result admirable, and the benefits immense.  Ecco Homo.




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Just got news of the failure of a tailings facility in Brazil.  I can find no English versions of the news.  There are many reports in Portuguese, and you can get them translated via Google.  They provide little information about the engineering causes or consequences, other than that at least three and possibly as many as ten are dead. (more…)

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A few notes on things heard recently about Mt Polley.  I was told this is all public knowledge, although I have not read any of it on the web. (more…)

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I write this fifty percent in jest, fifty percent in earnest, fifty percent with tounge in cheek, and fifty percent as a concerned citizen.  You decide which is which in what follows, for I cannot decide.  After the failure of the Bafokeng tailings facility, we built a dike across the failed area and picked up the tailings on the mine property.  We put these picked-up tailings back in the slimes dam.  Then we built a rockfill dike with an upstream filter across the valley just at the edge of the mine property.  Thus any tailings we did not pick up were washed down to the dike and were in due course picked up and put back in the slimes dam.  In due course, they filled in the failure volume with new tailings as the mine continued production. (more…)

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Spent today stuffing the bags to be handed to the over 150 delegates to next week’s conference here in Vancouver on Geosynthetics Mining Solutions 2014.   I also went through the volume of proceedings.  We have some amazingly interesting papers on aspects of geosynthetics use in mining new to me.  There is still time to join us on Tuesday if you push hard. (more…)

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