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Here is a challenge written up in a recent comment on a previous blog posting:

I would love to see someone write a paper on the merits of a wet tailings pond. Today’s lovechild seems to be the filtered tailing concept but let’s hear some kudos for a properly designed wet tailings pond. It gives the ability to deal with seasonal or short term storm water surges, the ability to store water for use in low flow periods, avoids needing to continually withdraw process water from rivers or lakes, keeps ARD materials submerged, lower capex & opex, lower power consumption via natural clarification instead of mechanical clarification, and less greenhouse gas emissions related to lower power consumption. Where are the friends of the conventional tailings pond or have they gone into hiding from the filtered tailings mob?

Today I had lunch with John Gadsby who is 82 and still active in tailings.  Way back in 1983, he and Syd Hillis were the peer reviewers of my work on the design and construction of the Cannon Mine tailings facility besides Wenatchee, Washington.  I asked him the questions implicit in the comment above.

He quickly reminded me that the Cannon tailings facility was a very successful wet tailings deposition facility that was also designed to contain lots of water from heavy rains in the catchment area of the Cascades.  He reminded me that that facility was built to be secure as it is upgradient of a significant part of Wenatchee.  He said he thought the facility must surely represent the best tailings technology for wet tailings deposition ever.  And now it is closed and part of the Dry Gulch Riding Stables–an asset to the local community.

Without being too bold & boastful, I know this dam was good, is good, and will remain stable for a very long time hence.  It proves, in my mind, that you can mine close to communities, can safely manage wet tailings in sensitive environments, and can close mine sites for sustainable use.  Here are links to some papers I wrote on its design & construction:

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You can get all these papers by going to the InfoMine Library and doing a search for Cannon Caldwell.  You can also get a lot more information at the official Cannon Mine website.

So now let us have a debate about whether this tailings facility built in 1983 and 1984 represent current best practice or best available technology for wet tailings management.  I think it does, but then I am hopelessly prejudiced.  And I recognize parochial sentiments sometime inhibit cross-boarder admiration of engineering works.  Still you can get there in a four-hour drive from Vancouver.  Go see it sometime.

 

 

 

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A rare victory for the mining industry:  the Chilean Environmental Court has ruled that the Pascua Lama mining project has not affected the glaciers in the vicinity of the mine. (more…)

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Thursday to see Die Fledermaus at the Vancouver Opera House.  This is Johann Strauss’s classic waltz opera of marital infidelity and mistaken identity.  And the prime sponsor is Goldcorp, a Vancouver-based successful mining house. (more…)

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A story from the mid-1970s.  A story of the early days of Steffen Robertson and Kirsten, now SRK. Soon after joining the company in the first offices in Johannesburg, Oskar Steffen was faced with a problem.  His clients complained that the Steffen Robertson and Kirsten reports were too long and nobody read them.  This was bad news, for we slaved over the reports.  Each was handwritten in pencil or ink and then typed by a bevy of typists.  You had only one or two chances to edit and improve them.  So each was a gem, in our minds, of devoted labor.  The idea that nobody read them was devastating. (more…)

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This weekend opera from the sublime to the ridiculous, or from the ridiculous to the sublime.  Depends on your opera tastes.  We started on Saturday morning with the MET broadcast of the Merry Widow, an operetta with lots of spoken dialogue and catchy tunes, and an easy love story with a happy ending.  We finished with Richard Strauss’ Salome.  A short, brutal opera of lust, violence, and death.  Solome is killed by Herod’s soldiers after  emoting on the severed head of John the Baptist. (more…)

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Today was a perfect summer day in Vancouver; although it is still officially winter.  I slept late in the sun streaming through the bedroom windows.  I rode my bicycle to and from work in the warmth of the sun, although it was a trifle cold coming home as, short of breath, I walked the hills that become steeper every year. (more…)

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Every Sunday we would go from the mine, East Geduld, where my father was a mine captain,  to my grandmother and step-grandfather for lunch.  My step-grandfather was a winder on the mines–a job that probably no longer exists.  Joe was his name and we called him Grandpa Joe.  He has tall and ginger.  He came from Ireland, courted my grandmother who ran Ma Brett’s Boarding House as a way to survive after the death of my grandfather–leaving her three children to bring up. (more…)

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