Innovation helps tailings management and provides mine power

The Solarmax Thermoplastic Racking System (STRS) was certainly a star of the SME Annual Meeting in Phoenix last week. STRS integrates exposed geomembranes with photovoltaic solar panels. Solarmax Arizona has developed a proprietary mounting system that integrates plastic or polymer frames that are fusion welded directly to a thermoplastic liner. These solar panel racks are on test in Arizona as dust controlling membranes covering tailings facilities that also produce power for the operations.

Solarmax’s mounting system can be bonded with various membranes from HDPE, TPO, RPP, etc. These types of liners are common in mining. The company’s goal is to take advantage of such “wasted land spaces and convert them to solar power generating stations. Many mines have a large number of south facing slopes that are perfect for solar although there hasn’t been a cost-effective method of deployment until now.

The membranes can provide dust, erosion, evaporation and vegetation control. They can also play an important role in water management while all the time generating electricity. As a guide, a 0.8 ha (2 acres) STRS installation can provide 1 MW of power. A detailed article in International Mining‘s May issue will examine this very interesting new technology and its application.