Gold Fields Limited has announced a new consortium of eight global mining companies has launched a multi-year initiative to develop and implement new technological applications for managing tailings.
The GeoStable Tailings Consortium (GSTC) comprises Antamina, Barrick, BHP, Freeport-McMoRan, Gold Fields, Newmont, Teck and Vale, with external expert support provided by Dr G Ward Wilson of the University of Alberta.
The GSTC will study options to combine various blends of tailings with waste rock to create ‘geo-stable’ landforms that are stronger and more stable than conventional tailings deposition methods and are likely to reduce process water consumption. It will undertake a range of research and development activities, including laboratory testing, field trials and data analysis, and will collaborate to promote best practices in tailings and waste management and foster a culture of continuous improvement across the mining industry.
Martin Preece, Interim CEO of Gold Fields, said: “The management of our TSFs has as its ultimate goal zero harm to people and the environment through their full life cycle. This is in line with the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, the new tailings storage facility (TSF) benchmark to which all members of the ICMM are committed to conform to. Having stable TSFs is a critical element of this standard.
“There is significant mining industry interest in developing geo-stable TSFs, but there is still a lack of a sound research and development including testing protocols to assess, compare and validate the performance of different technical approaches across different mineralogical and operational situations. Gold Fields is therefore a willing participant in this consortium and playing our role in becoming part of the solution.”
The new GSTC initiative builds on the work of a group formed to advance geo-waste and eco-tailings research previously pursued by Goldcorp, which was acquired by Newmont in early 2019.