The effective and safe disposal of mining wastes presents technical and environmental challenges. Each facility is unique, so a tailor-made and sound approach is needed to ensure that the TMF is safe, environmentally sound and economical. Although TMFs are operated with increasing care in many ECE countries, the safety of their operations and their afterlife needs further improvement. This should also be seen in the light of the challenges posed by climate change, which may increase the probability of industrial accidents caused by natural disasters, such as earthquakes and flooding that pose a major risk to TMFs.
In this publication, a tailings management facility (TMF) is intended to encompass the whole set of structures required for the handling of tailings including the tailings storage facility, tailings dam(s), tailings impoundment, clarification ponds, delivery pipelines, etc. Tailings are the fine-grained waste material remaining after the metals and minerals recoverable with the technical processes applied have been extracted. The material is rejected at the “tail end” of the process with a particle size normally ranging from 10 μm to 1.0 mm.
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), 2014.
Safety guidelines and good practices for tailings management facilities