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Design of an HDPE-lined platinum tailings facility in South Africa

Linda Spies
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
First presented: 
SAIMM Tailings Storage Conference
Published paper
Mine Waste

Under current environmental legislation in South Africa, tailings are viewed as potentially hazardous waste which needs to be disposed of in compliance with the minimum requirements for that type of waste. The platinum tailings in this case study classified as a hazardous waste requiring an HDPE liner as a key component of the pollution control barrier for the disposal of the tailings. Traditionally, tailings dams in South Africa have been built on top of the in-situ soils. The use of liners is a relatively new phenomenon in tailings dam construction in Southern Africa and brings with it its own set of challenges. For example: where before the in-situ soils may have acted as a natural drainage medium for the tailings dam, all drainage must now be artificially added; stability of the tailings dam needs to be assessed in new ways as different possible failure mechanism need to be considered; and management of stormwater during construction must be carefully planned.

This paper will present a case study highlighting how some of these challenges were addressed in a project where an HDPE liner was included in the design of the tailings dam.

SRK Africa