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Many, many years ago I was in Sitka for a conference on Marine Tailings Disposal.  The proceedings were published in a book edited by D.V. Ellis.  You can get a copy from amazon.com for $4.00.  My copy is in the attic of the house in Huntington Beach.  Bet none of the kids will ever read the paper therein that I wrote with John Welsh.

Recently one of the many who communicate with me via private email sent me a remarkable document.  It is the DSTP Initiative: 2014 Knowledge Workshop Report dated May 2014.   Keep in mind DSTP stands for Deep Sea Tailings Placement.

I have not been able to find a link to it on Google–if you do please let us know.  Any rate I have a copy and will send it to you if you email me your request at jcaldwell@infomine.com.

The document is dense with information and I have no intention of summarizing it or commenting on it–too controversial a topic right now.   Nevertheless, here is the introductory text from the volume.

The competition for land use in the central region of Chile is a national issue. The Central region is the most densely populated region of Chile and the land is ideal for a range of agricultural activities. The Central region also has abundant copper deposits and copper production presents another source of competition for land use. Copper production is an important driver of economic prosperity and has helped to make Chile’s economy one of the strongest and most robust of Latin America. However, copper production in the central region will soon be limited by the availability of land for tailing disposal. Copper mines in the central region currently dispose of their tailings in land based tailings dams. As current tailings dams reach their capacity, additional disposal capacity will have to be developed either through the construction of additional dams on land currently used for agricultural purposes or the development of alternative disposal methods. The combination of land scarcity and the need for additional disposal capacity present a significant challenge for the mining industry and, given the economic importance of both agricultural production and copper production, Chile as a nation.

Mining companies in the central region have recognized this challenge and been searching for alternatives to land-based disposal. A viable alternative would alleviate the land-use issue and enable the continued development of the copper industry in the country. The mining companies recently formed an independent Consortium to carry out an impartial evaluation of Deep Sea Tailing Placement (DSTP), an alternative method of disposal that is currently being used in other countries.

Chile and the mining industry will only use DSTP if it can be shown to be viable from human health, social and environmental perspectives. However, the current scientific and technical knowledge about DSTP is not sufficient to make such a determination. The Consortium will manage and oversee a comprehensive research program to close the gaps in the current knowledge. In addition, the Consortium will design and implement a plan for involving and engaging with stakeholders. The DSTP Initiative represents a different approach to determining the direction of the mining industry. Rather than treating the evaluation as a unilateral business decision, it is being carried out in a spirit of openness and collaboration. The Consortium will foster a collaborative effort with industry, government, communities, environmental NGOs, academia, and other key stakeholders in order to make an informed decision about DSTP.

As part of this new approach, the Consortium sponsored a Knowledge Workshop that brought together a wide range of stakeholders. The purpose of the workshop was to generate guidance and input to help the Consortium map out a path forward.

This document presents the results of that workshop. Chapters V through VIII focus on different areas of guidance developed at the workshop.

At this link is an evaluation of DSTP in Papua New Guinea.  Interesting reading.

Then there is the book Undersea Tailings Placement at Island Copper Mine: A Success Story.  Certainly makes you think.

MiningWatch disputes the conclusions at this link.  They note use of marine tailings disposal at these places:

  • In Chile at the Huasco Iron Pelletising Plant operated by Compania Minera del Pacifico
  • In Indonesia at Minahasa Raya and Batu Hijau mines both operated by Newmont Corporation
  • In Turkey at the Cayeli Bakir Mine operated by Inmet Mining
  • In Papua New Guinea at the Lihir Mine operated by Lihir Management Company and Rio Tinto
  • In Papua New Guinea at the Misima Mine operated by Placer Dome
  • In England at the Boulby Potash Mine operated by Cleveland Potash
  • In the Philippines at the Atlas Mine operated by Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation

Obviously all controversial and not about to go away.  But I am in a good mood today, so why start another blogging controversy other than to say that in the goodness of time, all tailings will land there eventually.

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In February next year I shall go to the Society of Mining Engineers (SME) conference in Denver.  One evening I shall dine with Andy Robertson and his party.  We will celebrate his induction into the Mining Hall of Fame. This is a signal honor for him and due recognition of his many contributions to the mining industry.  He well deserves it.  Not that he needs more recognition–most people I speak to know and respect him.  He is well-known for his superior intellect, his accomplishments, and his human gentleness.  For he is first and foremost a gentleman in all meanings of the word. (more…)

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Just home from a four-week journey that took me to  Peru, Chile, Keystone CO, Banff, and Ekati NWT.  It is good to be back in the house where you can throw off the formalities of travel, eat simple food, and get drunk in private. They say that Peruvian food is the best in the world.  Indeed it is if you are in a fancy, expensive place in Lima.  But go to a mine and eat what the miners eat, and it is terrible beyond belief.  Rice & beans and other unrecognizable substances of gooey texture.  I lost weight.  Maybe it was the altitude = 14,500 ft.  You walk slow and breathe deep in those conditions. (more…)

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The final keynote speech at the conference on Tailings and Mine Waste was from Craig Benson. He talked about mine waste facility covers.   He has promised me a pdf of his talk. But in the meantime there are many documents by him and his coworkers readily available on the web that deal with much the same material as was in his presentation. (more…)

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Today’s keynote address was by Tamara Johndrow of Freeport-McMoRan Mining Company. Her topic was FCX Tailings Stewardship Program. Let me note what I recall of her talk. Tamara heads a group of about ten engineers.  Their task is to look after, or steward, all of Freeport-McMoRan’s tailings facilities.  If I recall correctly that includes 18 operating facilities and over fifty closed facilities.  That is a large portfolio. They have a single objective:  NO FAILURES. (more…)

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The first day of presentations at the Tailings and Mine Waste 2014 Conference.  Gordon McPhail delivered a talk in honor of Geoff Blight, who passed away earlier this year.  Geoff made so many contributions to tailings that we were talking for at least an hour about him and his genius.  I honor him here in the only way I know:  record my opinion that he was one of the great of tailings. (more…)

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The best read of the week is at this link where you can read the stories of mining engineering students at the University of Arizona College of Engineering.  The stories are about their internships.  As the site notes by way of introduction: (more…)

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