The conference on Tailings & Mine Waste ’08 is done. Two days of technical papers lead one to identify these changes in the theory and practice of mine waste in the thirty years the conference has been held:
- Liners for impoundments are now accepted as good practice; no longer do we hear how liners are unnecessary components forced on the mining industry.
- Covers are now routinely four feet and thicker; gone are the days when the proud brag was a one-foot thick cover.
- Side slopes of three to one and even five to one are considered reasonable; no longer do we hear that the angle of repose is stable enough.
- Water is a component of interest and value; no longer a side issues and a nuisance.
- Regulations including CERCLA and RCRA are mentioned in passing and implemented routinely; no longer are there tirades against unwise regulators.
- Stocastic methods are used and the young recognize that extreme events do occur.
These I consider to be good changes. Although they have resulted in significant increases in the cost of tailings and mine waste management.
In future postings I will review some of the papers that expand on these ideas.