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Challenges

Competing factors such as cost, the environment, safety, and technical viability are at the forefront of thinking when today's mining organizations are investing in new tailings systems or retrofitting existing ones.

The process-water lock-up and increasing land take needed by conventional tailings management are pushing us to find more advanced systems, such as paste and filtered tailings. These new methods are designed to maximize water recovery and minimize our environmental footprint. But the capacity of these measures is constrained significantly now. More work is needed to make them suitable for today's modern mining operations.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that ore grades are continuing to decline as older, higher-grade deposits are being exhausted. These suboptimal grades need significantly larger throughputs at the plant to maintain profitability. So, the cost and technical viability of the tailings solutions increases, too.

Recent failures in the industry are pushing for more highly regulated and lower risk methods of managing tailings. We all must do our part to minimize liability and ultimately eliminate the potential for catastrophic impacts to the environment and downstream communities.

Capabilities

Tailings management

You need an experienced partner who can contribute to the investigation, design, construction, operation, and rehabilitation of conventional and filtered tailings storage facilities. We help organizations like yours develop practical, economically sound engineering solutions for the effective environmental management of tailings disposals. We can select and help prove technologies for water recovery and conservation, improving operations performance and stability. Solutions to convert conventional disposal areas to dry stack can also be developed, and we can provide stable, low-risk rehabilitation strategies for existing and future tailings storage areas, too.

Water management

Integral to any effective tailings-management strategy is the ongoing management of water. With their big footprints, tailings facilities often impact large surface catchment areas and regional groundwater systems. Their effects need to be appropriately studied in order to minimize long-term impacts on operations and the surrounding environment.

In wetter climates like those in northern latitudes and at the equator, excess water can often lead to containment risk and the potential for contaminated water to affect the natural ecosystem. The inverse is true in some of the drier southern climates and desert environments. There, water scarcity may cripple operations. Our in-house hydrological, geochemical, and process specialists work together to define the impacts of water associated with tailings management. You benefit from a holistic view that not only saves costs but improves social and environmental acceptance.

Process and geotechnical characterization

Our engineering services develop and pilot state-of-the-art technologies for tailings management and filtration. We work closely with commercial laboratories to design test-work programs that accurately characterize the geotechnical, rheological, and geochemical properties of tailings materials. Our in-house geotechnical and process specialists work side-by-side to fine-tune and optimize your proposed systems, maximizing value and minimizing the tailings life-cycle costs. We work in teams, understanding the whole system and not just one small piece of the puzzle.

Operational support

You can count on our experience to help develop longer-term plans, both operational and strategic, for your tailings management. We can provide engineering, environmental work, public consultation services, and regulatory input. We work with you, contributing specialists to plan for whole-of-life operations—from concept through detailed-engineering design, facility construction, and operation, to closure and rehabilitation. You'll get expert help to assess long-term tailings-management requirements with respect to capital and operational budgets, and environmental and social policies.

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What it takes to win

Joe Lombard
Much as we appreciate the award recognition, outstanding project management is really just the way we do things at Hatch. We start with the basics. Safety. Communication. Cost and schedule. And most of all, client satisfaction.
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