Tag Archives: tailings management

BHP, Rio Tinto extend tailings dewatering and management collaboration

BHP and Rio Tinto have joined together to invite expressions of interest from technology providers, equipment manufacturers, reagent suppliers, startups and research groups across the globe with innovative ideas and technologies to help improve tailings dewatering and management performance.

The global miners aim to jointly identify a portfolio of tailings management partners with whom they can work to accelerate the development of technologies that could increase water recovery and reduce potential safety risks and environmental footprints associated with tailings storage facilities, they say.

The search for new partners comes as the two companies have now entered into a new agreement to extend their collaboration beyond the previously announced trial of a large-volume tailings filter unit at a BHP copper mine in Chile.

BHP Head of Sustainability Innovation, Ingrid Oyarzun, said: “There are so many innovative thinkers out there and we want to bring them in as partners to help us improve in this critical area for safety and sustainability of our operations.”

Rio Tinto Chief Advisor Research and Development, Saskia Duyvesteyn, said: “We want to tap into the wealth of great ideas and innovations we know are out there and work together to find ways to improve safety and reduce the environmental footprint of tailings facilities.”

Tailings management includes tailings dewatering and transport technologies, chemical amendment and dust mitigation. Ideas and technologies considered may be market-ready for mining, involve technologies previously applied in other industries, or may be original ideas at earliest stages of research and development.

Interested parties are invited to obtain further information about the process and submit their expression of interest in becoming involved by visiting www.tailingsopencall.com

McLanahan to expand water recycling offering with acquisition of filtration leader Diefenbach

McLanahan Corporation has signed an agreement to acquire Diefenbach, an Italian manufacturer of filter presses and thickeners based out of Medolago, Italy.

The two companies, which have been working together on projects since 2013, expect the acquisition to close during the June quarter of 2023.

Diefenbach has been a leader in liquid-solid separation using filter presses since its founding in 1907, when the company was focused on producing presses for the olive oil industry. In the 1950s, Diefenbach expanded into the recycling and filtration of industrial wastewater. Today, Diefenbach has sold thousands of machines and has extensive experience in selling and manufacturing this equipment for the mining and aggregate industries, as well as for chemical manufacturing, food and beverage processing, battery recycling, PET recycling, wastewater treatment and more.

As the focus on a circular economy and recycling water from industrial processes becomes more prominent on a global scale, McLanahan was looking for a partner to continue expanding its offerings in this space, it said. This will allow the company to ensure it is able to offer a more comprehensive solution to customers and industries around the world in support of these changing requirements for processing.

Cory Jenson, EVP – Sales and Business Development at McLanahan, said: “As we look toward the future, we see a growing need for wastewater and tailings management in a variety of industries as part of the circular economy. Every industry is being challenged to use less and less water and to recycle the water they are using. This acquisition offers significant synergies to McLanahan’s existing tailings solutions in mining and aggregates, which continue to remain a critical part of McLanahan’s product offerings. This new partnership allows us to offer a more competitive solution to our tailings partners around the world.”

Diefenbach will continue to operate as an independent brand in the marketplace, focusing on its core industries and markets around the world.

RheEnergise, UK universities win grant for High-Density Hydro energy storage system work

In partnership with the University of Greenwich and the University of Exeter, UK-based RheEnergise has secured a grant of £1 million ($1.2 million), funded through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) as part of the UK Government’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF).

The government grant will fund work to identify and test waste materials (such as tailings) that could be used in the high-density fluid (HDF) that is integral to RheEnergise’s grid-scale High-Density Hydro® energy storage system, which RheEnergies says is an environmentally-benign alternative to water.

RheEnergise’s long duration storage system is low-cost and energy efficient, the company states. The fluid used in the system is two-and-a-half times denser than water (similar in viscosity to cream) and is therefore able to provide two-and-a-half times the power and two-and-a-half times the energy when compared with conventional low-density hydro-power systems that rely on water and operate in the Scottish Highlands, Wales and across Europe. It means that RheEnergise can deploy its long duration energy storage system beneath the surface of hills rather than mountains, so opening up massive commercial opportunities in the UK, Europe and further afield. There is very real potential for RheEnergise’s storage system to be deployed in operating mines and quarries, the company says.

The research project, funded by the UK Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, wants to identify suitable minerals and waste streams that can be recycled into the high-density fluid which can be locally sourced and are lower cost, rather than having to rely on minerals imported from overseas.

Stephen Crosher, Chief Executive of RheEnergise, says: “The opportunities presented by the EEF grant are phenomenal. We are delighted to be able to lead and partner with two outstanding universities – Greenwich and Exeter. The project has the potential to solve three huge questions that affect people daily and globally: those of climate change mitigation, delivering firm power supply from renewables and how to use waste from other industries for new purposes, creating truly circular economies.

“The government grant, from the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, will help us to cut the operating cost of our hydro energy storage system, whilst increasing its sustainability. By using locally sourced waste materials, we can lower the costs of our projects, reduce carbon emissions from transportation and processing and create a new circular economy where none currently exists.

“Working with colleagues from Greenwich and Exeter Universities, our research team will be closely examining waste and tailings from various sources but in particular from mines and quarries. There is also the potential that operating mines and quarries, which by their very nature have high elevations and are high energy users, could use our energy storage system.”

Later this year, RheEnergise will start work on building a 250 kW/1 MWh (four hours) demonstrator of its High-Density Hydro energy storage system at a site near Plymouth, UK, and is planning to have its first 5 MW grid-scale project in commercial operation within the next 3-5 years.

Eldorado turns to Metso Outotec for dry stack tailings solution at Skouries

Metso Outotec says it will deliver sustainable filtration technology for dry stacking of tailings to Eldorado Gold’s Hellas Gold Skouries copper-gold concentrator project in northern Greece.

Metso Outotec’s scope of delivery consists of the engineering, manufacturing and supply of several Planet Positive Larox® FFP3512 filters as well as installation and commissioning advisory services. The fully automatic, fast-opening filter press (FFP) combines the benefits of membrane technology and sidebar design with high mechanical and process performance, providing safe and sustainable high-volume dewatering of tailings at low operating and life cycle costs, according to the company.

Brock Gill, SVP Projects & Transformation for Eldorado Gold, said: “Skouries is a world-class project, and we are aiming for best-in-class sustainable technologies in the project design. For tailings management, the Skouries project will use dry stack tailings impoundment, which requires less space, reduces water consumption and maximises recovery of process water for reuse. Metso Outotec filters were selected as key and proven technology for the dry tailings facility not only because of their performance, but also because of their energy efficiency.”

Jussi Venäläinen, Vice President, Filtration business line at Metso Outotec, added: “Eldorado Gold and Hellas Gold were looking for a reliable partner to help ensure the safety and sustainability of the Skouries tailings dry stacking facility. We are pleased having been chosen to deliver this core technology for the project. Previously, we’ve supplied proprietary technologies for grinding, flotation, thickening and automation to Skouries.”

The value of the order is approximately €14 million ($13.8 million), according to Metso Outotec.

Metso Outotec says its filtration product portfolio is the largest in the field, with the company having carried out over 14,000 filtration tests and delivered more than 5,000 filters for various applications worldwide.

A 2021 feasibility study on Skouries highlighted a 20-year operation able to produce 140,000 oz/y of gold and 67 MIb (30,391 t) of copper.

Phoenix Tailings receives US DoE funding for ‘carbon-negative’ tech development

Phoenix Tailings, a US-based critical materials extraction and refining startup, is to receive $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to extract nickel and magnesium from mining waste using what it says is “carbon negative technology”.

These metals are crucial to the production of the batteries that fuel cars, computers and phones using a zero-emissions process, it said.

Phoenix Tailings was one of 16 projects across the country to receive the funding as part of the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Mining Innovations for Negative Emissions Resource Recovery program, which aims to develop market-ready technologies that will increase domestic supplies of critical elements required for the clean energy transition.

The funding will support Phoenix Tailings’ work to extract nickel and magnesium from mining tailings through a process that uses carbonisation and recycled carbon dioxide. The process, which is carbon negative, generates high-purity nickel oxide and magnesium carbonate.

Phoenix Tailings, Co-Founder Anthony Balladon (pictured), said: “Think about all the products we use that rely on batteries – from computers to EVs to tactical weapons systems. We depend on the metals that make up these batteries, but rarely think about the environmental impacts of producing them. At Phoenix Tailings we have found a carbon negative way to recover nickel from mining waste, or tailings. We are grateful for the ARPA-E funding to help propel this project forward and ensure there’s a sustainable way to create these metals without producing harmful by-products.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M Granholm, said: “A reliable, sustainable domestic supply chain of critical materials that power longer-lasting batteries and other next-generation energy technologies is crucial to reaching our clean energy future. With these investments, DOE is helping to reinvigorate American manufacturing to reduce our overreliance on adversarial nations and position the nation as a global leader of research and innovation.”

Rio Tinto and BHP team up to tackle tailings dewatering

BHP and Rio Tinto have formed a partnership agreement to accelerate the development of technology that, they say, could significantly increase water recovery from mine tailings, and, in turn, reduce potential safety risks and environmental footprints associated with tailings storage facilities.

The first project will involve testing the application of an innovative large-volume filter unit at a BHP copper mine in Chile, which would remove up to 80% of the water in the tailings stream before it is deposited in a storage facility.

Rio Tinto will bring its experience from implementing smaller-scale tailings filters for bauxite residues at alumina refineries since 2005. Both organisations will work in collaboration with leading technology and equipment providers, technical experts, research groups and the academic sector, they say.

Manufacture of the filter unit is already underway. The pilot construction is due to begin in early 2023 and operations are scheduled to commence in early 2024. The pilot will test the potential of a large-scale tailings filter unit for scalability and cost-effectiveness across global mining operations.

Removing more water from tailings would reduce potential risks associated with moisture in storage facilities, reduce the footprint required by such facilities and create opportunities to productively re-use tailings, for example, as raw material for glass, construction or agriculture industries, the companies say.

The additional water recovered from tailings by filtration could be re-used in processing facilities, reducing overall water consumption.

BHP Chief Technical Officer, Laura Tyler, said: “The world will need more critical minerals in the decades to come to support economic development and decarbonisation pathways. It is important that we keep working together across the global mining sector to raise standards and make sure our operations are as safe and sustainable as they can be. Responsible management of tailings and improved water use is a big part of that.”

Rio Tinto Chief Technical Officer, Mark Davies, said: “It is in everyone’s interest that we, as an industry, find safer and more sustainable ways to manage tailings. As two of the leading companies in the sector, we want to bring our combined knowledge and expertise to address this challenge.”

Tailings usually takes the form of a liquid slurry made of fine metal or mineral particles and water – created when mined ore is crushed and finely ground in a milling process to enable the metals and minerals of interest to be extracted.

Metso Outotec integrates tailings and water treatment solutions into one TMS offering

Metso Outotec says is introducing its comprehensive Tailings Management Solutions offering for the sustainable management of mine tailings.

The offering unites products with decades of process expertise and covers tailings thickening and dewatering as well as handling through conveying and dry stacking, it said. In addition, Metso Outotec offers a portfolio of solutions for the treatment of water produced during dewatering, enabling closed water loops while managing the level of impurities within the recycled water.

Dr Piia Suvio, Director, Tailings and Water, Metso Outotec, said: “The rising demand for sustainably mined materials and stricter environmental legislation are pushing the need for more advanced technology for safe processing and storing of the tailings. Water resource efficiency is also becoming more and more important. These factors, combined with the need to capture the full value of ore, for example, by reprocessing the tailings to extract the remaining valuable minerals, lead to a continuously increasing need for sophisticated tailings management solutions.”

Dr Suvio added: “With our extensive process expertise, we can offer cutting-edge technology solutions for any tailings management need to reduce water use, environmental impact, risks, and costs. Together with our customers, we can reshape the future of tailings and drive responsible management practices that help the business and society to prosper,” says Suvio.

Metso Outotec has been involved in the development of tailings management solutions and equipment for over 50 years. Today, a lot of emphasis is put on the design stage, which includes, for example, test work and studies supported by process simulations carried out with the recently launched Metso Outotec Geminex™ digital twin, allowing accurate plant design and sizing.

Metso Outotec’s Tailings Management Solutions consist of a wide range of Planet Positive equipment and feature performance and capacity guarantees:

  • Thickening plant units are based on Metso Outotec IPS, HRT, HCT and PT technologies. The Reactorwell™ feed system and Vane Feedwell™ provide enhanced mixing, dilution, and retention of the feed, maximising flocculant adsorption and aggregate growth. The advanced Metso Outotec control systems, such as the thickener optimiser, help improve the overall performance of the thickening plant unit;
  • Filtration plant units are based on proven FFP or FP-S filtration technology. The Metso Outotec filtration plant unit is specifically designed for high-volume tailings processing, leading to savings in operational and maintenance costs;
  • The company’s extensive conveying and stacking portfolio consists of robust components and is built to last and perform under even the toughest conditions; and
  • Metso Outotec process water recycling plants enable the recovery and reuse of water within the production process with enhanced metal recovery within the flotation circuit.

Metso Outotec says it supports its tailings management portfolio with a full range of parts, inspections, process optimisation and Life Cycle Services.

Metso Outotec to provide PT Huafei Nickel Cobalt with Planet Positive Larox filters

Metso Outotec has been awarded what it says is a major contract for the delivery of sustainable tailings filtration technology to PT Huafei Nickel Cobalt’s greenfield laterite nickel ore project in Indonesia.

Metso Outotec’s scope of delivery consists of the engineering, manufacturing and supply of the Planet Positive Larox® FFP3512 filters, as well as installation and commissioning advisory services and spare parts.

The fully automatic fast-opening filter press (FFP) combines the benefits of membrane technology and sidebar design with high mechanical and process performance, providing safe and sustainable high-volume dewatering of tailings with low operating and life cycle costs, Metso Outotec said.

The hydrometallurgical plant has a targeted annual output of 120,000 t of nickel metal and is expected to be in operation during the June quarter of 2023.

Metso Outotec’s Planet Positive portfolio, which the Larox FFP3512 filters are a part of, focuses on the most environmentally efficient technologies – of which there are more than 100 – in the company’s current portfolio, responding to the sustainability requirements of its customers. The customer requirements relate to energy or water efficiency, reduction of emissions, circularity and safety, Metso Outotec says.

Jussi Venäläinen, Vice President, Filtration business line at Metso Outotec, said: “For our customer, the key criterion for selecting Metso Outotec’s filtration technology was safe and sustainable tailings processing with proven service capability. In addition, we were able to meet the customer’s wish for a quick delivery time.

“We are very pleased to have been chosen as the solution supplier, and we look forward to working together with our customer on this important project.”

Metso Outotec’s filtration product portfolio is the largest in the field and the energy, emission and water efficiency is in a league of its own, the company said. It has carried out over 14,000 filtration tests and delivered more than 5,000 filters for various applications worldwide. Most of the filters are sold under the Larox product name along with Metso Outotec corporate branding. Metso Outotec also accommodates all filtration-related service and spare parts needs through its global service network.

The value of the order is over €30 million ($33 million), and it has been booked in Minerals’ Q1 (March quarter) 2022 orders received.

Repair, Reuse, Recycle: ERG’s critical minerals reprocessing journey

The Musonoi River Valley in the Katanga region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has, for some decades, been the site of land degradation resulting from inadequate and ineffective tailings and other waste management systems.

The local water system and surrounding land has been subjected to pollution from more than 83.2 Mt of legacy tailings spread over an area 11-km long and up to 2.5-km wide. Additionally, 41.1 Mt of tailings have accumulated at the Kingamyambo Tailings Dam.

Remediating and mitigating this damage is now a primary goal of Eurasian Resources Group’s Metalkol Roan Tailings Reclamation (RTR), a reprocessing facility dedicated to cleaning up the historic tailings left by previous mining operators in the Kolwezi area of the DRC. By reclaiming and reprocessing copper and cobalt tailings in the region, the company says its approach goes beyond ‘do no harm’, actively addressing a history of environmental degradation and pollution.

The legacy tailings are extracted through hydraulic mining and dredging, reprocessed and then re-deposited into a modern, closely managed and centralised tailings storage facility. This is subject to regular inspection, monitoring and reporting, supported by a dedicated Engineer of Record and an independent laboratory. Currently Metalkol RTR can produce 21,000 t/y of cobalt, which is says is sufficient for three million electric vehicle batteries, alongside around 100,000 t/y of copper, the company says.

ERG also has reprocessing operations outside of Africa, including at Kazchrome in Kazakhstan, which, it says, is the world’s largest high-carbon ferrochrome producer by chrome content.

Established in 2019, ERG Recycling – ERG’s specialised company aiming to become the largest entity to reprocess industrial waste into commercial products in Kazakhstan – has already implemented many projects including the commissioning of a new workshop that reprocesses slag, dust and other fine waste into high-quality briquettes. This program to reprocess Kazchrome’s 14.7 Mt of slag stockpiles has been expanded, now processing over 100,000 t/y of slag.

These operations have been enhanced by the development of new technology. Having completed the first trial in 2020, the Slimes 2 Tailings Reprocessing project at Donskoy GOK has the potential to enhance Kazchrome’s output of chrome concentrate by recovering 55% of the chromium oxide in chrome-oxide bearing tailings using innovative flotation technology, the company says.

In Brazil, at ERG’s integrated project, BAMIN, which produces a premium 67% Fe grade iron ore and is ramping up to become one of the country’s largest standalone iron ore exporters, the company’s transition from an upstream to a downstream tailings model ensured continued compliance with both local regulations and international standards, it said. The group continues to study additional technological enhancements to ensure the construction and operation of a world-class facility.

The environmental benefits of reprocessing projects like these are very significant for the business and critical to local communities, according to the company.

“As more attention rightly turns towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, it is crucial that tailings are dealt with and stored properly,” ERG said. “Aside from preventing significant issues, such as dam collapses, by reprocessing and responsibly storing these tailings, we are reducing local pollution risks more generally, increasing air quality and decreasing the likelihood of leaching toxic substances into surrounding habitats and water systems.”

Given the legacy of environmental degradation and serious consequences it poses, it is also necessary for mining companies to explore novel ways of rehabilitating the environment.

For example, ERG has been working with a team of agronomists from the University of Lubumbashi in the DRC to look into the experimental planting of trees and their growing potential at the Kingamyambo tailings dam.

Looking forward, these operations will support the sustainable development of affordable batteries and other clean energy technologies.

By producing critical raw materials, such as cobalt, without the risk and cost of needing to develop new mining projects, ERG says it can help make electric vehicles and other renewable technologies more accessible, helping facilitating the net-zero transition.

Pictured above is Metalkol RTR, ERG’s reprocessing facility in the DRC: the world’s second largest standalone cobalt producer

SNC-Lavalin to expand tailings and water management business with appointment of Trevor Sparks

SNC-Lavalin has appointed Dr Trevor Sparks as Global Vice-President of Tailings and Water Management for the company’s Mining & Metallurgy business.

Trevor is based in the UK and will lead the expansion of the company’s tailings and water management global business in the mining industry, working in collaboration with teams around the world.

Cesar Inostroza, Mining & Metallurgy Senior Vice-President, SNC-Lavalin, said: “We are excited to welcome Trevor to the team. He brings a wealth of proficiency and knowledge and will play an important role in leading and deploying our world-class expertise aimed at helping our clients solve their tailings and water challenges in a sustainable manner.”

Dr Sparks has 30 years of experience in fluid engineering, solid-liquid filtration and mineral processing, as well as project execution, sales & marketing and consultancy. This includes roles with Outotec and, most recently, Metso Outotec.

He has a recognised track record of delivering operational excellence in leading the expansion of businesses and markets, according to SNC-Lavalin. He has guided and delivered numerous international projects, working with multidisciplinary teams to achieve significant increases in business performance.