Metso says its new approach to tailings management is aimed at addressing the water conservation and responsible mine reclamation requirements that are becoming increasingly important for mines to ensure they can retain their social license to operate.
Its new approach is spearheaded by the launch of the new Metso VPX™ filter for tailings dewatering, which, with an operating pressure of up to 25 bars, can deal with difficult-to-dewater tailings.
The company’s broader tailings management concept is geared towards enabling and supporting environmentally and economically sustainable mining, it said.
Victor Tapia, President, Mining Equipment business area at Metso, said: “Our ambition is to challenge the conventional way of looking at tailings management in mining.
“In practice, this means that besides environmental and regulatory concerns related to tailings, we need to improve the conservation of water, chemicals and ore, as well as looking for opportunities to reprocess tailings and generate value by extracting any remaining minerals. Ultimately, it allows transforming legacy practices in tailings management into a new, positive value creation model.”
Metso is driving this change by introducing a new concept for the dewatering, handling and reprocessing of tailings. It said: “Designed to maximise water recovery and reduce the footprint of tailings dams or eliminate them completely, Metso Tailings Management Solutions provide a long-term solution for mining companies looking for a viable approach to their tailings management and end-of-mine strategies.”
There are a huge amount of tailings discharged and lying in legacy dams, according to Metso. “Today, only about 5% of tailings are dewatered, while roughly 70% of the mines are located in countries where water scarcity is considered as an issue. The way tailings are handled can have a long-term impact on the mines’ economic efficiency as well as on the well-being of the surrounding environment and communities,” the company said.
Niclas Hällevall, VP of Beneficiation Solutions, Mining Equipment business area, said: “Metso views dry filtered tailings as the most viable and long-term solution for tailings management: it helps in recycling significantly more water to the concentrator, while enabling mines to reduce their freshwater footprint when compared to traditional tailings impoundments. Furthermore, the risk of tailings dam failure could be completely avoided by dewatering and dry stacking the tailings.”
He added: “Contrary to conventional belief, dry tailings are also much more capex (capital expenses) and opex (operating expenses) efficient compared to wet or thickened tailings.”
Metso Tailings Management Solutions bundle Metso’s beneficiation technologies into a “full, customisable and future-ready suite of solutions”, it says. Metso, with its core component, is taking filtration technology “to the next level” by introducing the Metso VPX filter, a new generation filtration solution for maximum water recovery and reuse, it said.
The company said: “The Metso VPX ﬁlter can handle difficult-to-dewater tailings, because it has up to 25 bars operating pressure, the highest pressure in its category. This enables up to 90% water recovery. The Metso VPX is also equipped with a fully electromechanical drive system and no hydraulics, making it the safest solution on the market. With its modular design, the Metso VPX filter is scalable as well as easily transportable to the site in standard containers.”
The VPX filter is available for mining customers globally and an ideal solution for a range of dewatering applications, Metso said, adding that the filter press will be on show at the Exposibram trade fair to be held in Brazil, in September.