At the heart of Metso is our drive to make the big difference to our customers. We offer equipment and services for the sustainable processing and flow of natural resources in the mining, aggregates, recycling equipment and process industries. Our customers are supported by a global network of over 14,000 professionals in more than 50 countries. Metso is listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki and had sales of about €3.2 billion in 2018.
Turning waste into value the Metso way
There are millions of tonnes of tailings being discharged today and billions of tonnes lying in legacy dams. A lot of older tailing facilities have impressive residual mineral values, which could provide opportunities to help in environmental reclamation while, at the same time, generate additional revenue. With reprocessing, mining companies can set the agenda to transform tailings ponds from a liability into an asset.
Whether driven by regulatory compliance, tailings dam failure and water scarcity, mine tailings can well become a strong business case in the near future. Due to growing mining volumes, global tailings generation was estimated to total ~3.2 billion tonnes for copper and ~1.8 billion tonnes for iron in 2018.
The mining industry knows well that the cost of tailings management and reclamation are significant for business profitability and long-term survival.
With a deeper commitment towards a more sustainable vision, mining companies around the globe are looking for smarter solutions and strategies for reducing the waste or tailings generated during mining activities. Reprocessing is a viable solution which helps to minimise risk and deliver a valued return on investment.
Sustainable and productive mining
A lot of operational and closed tailings facilities have residual mineral values that might not have been of interest in earlier times. With the advent of novel technologies, mining companies are now figuring out ways to extract valuable metals from tailings.
In gold, copper sulphide and iron ore tailings, there is much potential for extracting value. Reprocessing tailings to collect valuable minerals can be a cost-effective approach compared to processing virgin material. At Metso, we have conducted studies recently that tell us that processing one unit of tailings could be three times more cost-effective than processing virgin material.
A standard method of reprocessing involves dragging tailings from an existing dam back to the concentrator and using required mineral processing solutions to liberate the valuable metals. The discarded tailings are then dewatered and dry stacked, and the water recycled within the plant or properly disposed back to nature.
This helps mining companies reduce possible water losses as well as clean up the existing tailings dams or eliminate them completely, while providing an opportunity to convert mine waste to value. Overall, sustainable and productive mining solutions like reprocessing helps in creating a shared value for mining companies, local communities and the entire ecosystem.
Metso offers complete solutions for reprocessing tailings dams through its expertise in comminution and beneficiation, thus conserving ore and enabling profitability of mining operations. We firmly believe dry stacking tailings is the way forward and a disruptive practice can virtually eliminate the need of tailings ponds in coming years at the same time as lowering the risk of dam failures and groundwater contamination.
Ensuring a comprehensive mine lifecycle strategy
Looking at the bigger picture, ultimately, it is about the mine lifecycle strategy. An effective mine lifecycle needs a vision that goes beyond environmentally safe practice. Issues such as safety, compliance, and sustainability should be addressed with the same sense of responsibility as quality, productivity and cost efficiency.
Tailings management is not restricted to finding the most technically suitable equipment or solution; it is about transformation and taking the mine life cycle to a new level.
At Metso, we are ready to lead the dialogue and transformation towards dry tailings management and even look at addressing the decommissioning of legacy dams. With the introduction of new age dewatering technology, Metso is committed to offer productive and eco-efficient solutions to its customers.