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PERSPECTIVE: Dam(med) tailings

A couple weeks ago on Oct. 6 when news of the tailings spill in Hungary was front and centre in the daily pres...


A couple weeks ago on Oct. 6 when news of the tailings spill in Hungary was front and centre in the daily press, I wrote about the incident and suggested every mine manager take a minute to look closely at the tailings management area of his or her mine.

One of our readers was particularly displeased. That person wrote, “Wow, that is one of the worst articles i [sic] have ever read. Gee whillickers, us dumb miners never thought about tailings management or that it’s better to correct problems before there is a disaster. This from someone who can’t even spell Spain …”

Even an editor can have an off day, and the spelling error was corrected immediately.

It was never my intention to rile one of our readers, merely to gently remind all of them that in the matter of tailings management being vigilant means constant awareness.

The same day we posted a Hot Topic question regarding tailings management. The question was “On a scale of one to five (with five being superior), how would you rate the tailings management system at your mine?”

No surprisingly, the first respondent gave his/her system top marks. We did not get a lot of response, but three more awarded top marks. Six people gave their systems a three, and four gave theirs a one. I don’t want to make a lot out of this because our polls are extremely unscientific, but I was surprised that anyone would admit to having a tailings area with known shortcomings.

Knowing where the best and worst tailings ponds are might be interesting, but that will wait for another time.


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1 Comment » for PERSPECTIVE: Dam(med) tailings
  1. KC Armstrong says:

    Mining companies use earth fill dams to contain tailings. Pictures of the Hungarian spill show concrete walls sitting on soil, no one here would do that. That they cracked suggests that no rebar was used. The Hungarian government could have insisted that a competent earth fill dam be added to the outside of the concrete but had done nothing. Are readers aware that Hungary is one of the most anti-mining counties anywhere or remember how they screamed after a discharge from the Baia Mare operation in Romania? Pot, kettle.

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