Global organisation publishes tailings reduction roadmap

The tailings roadmap released by global organization International Council on Mining and Metals aims to help significantly reduce taiings waste form mining and metals processing operations

TELLING TIMES The tailings roadmap released by global organization International Council on Mining and Metals aims to help significantly reduce taiings waste form mining and metals processing operations

25th November 2022


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Global CEO-led organisation International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) in September published its Tailings Reduction Roadmap as part of a broader innovation initiative to develop solutions that significantly reduce tailings waste from mining and metals processing.

The roadmap lays out innovative approaches and solutions capable of significantly reducing tailings from the mine life cycle.

The initiative brings together a third of the global mining and metals industry to collaborate with technology innovators, including suppliers and academia, to accelerate technology for reducing tailings waste and to explore the potential to eliminate it in the long term.

The Tailings Reduction Roadmap sets out short- and long-term technology options.

These include mature solutions that can be implemented in the short term, such as coarse particle flotation technology, which enhances the recovery of coarser particles of ore that have traditionally been seen as waste.

Additionally, there are solutions with the potential to reduce tailings in more significant quantities, but that will require further development over the next ten to 15 years, such as higher precision mining and artificial intelligence.

Developed through a series of engagements between technology suppliers, innovators and ICMM members, the roadmap offers strategic direction to the mining industry on how to accelerate the development and adoption of technologies to reduce tailings.

It addresses technological challenges, such as testing new technology on a different range of ore characteristics, as well as enabling factors, including business case and regulatory requirements, in parallel.

ICMM members are already piloting technologies laid out in the roadmap that match their commodities and site characteristics, so that learnings can be applied to solutions that can be scaled up to benefit the whole industry.

“Catastrophic tailings failures in recent years, including at South Africa’s Jagersfontein mine in September, have brought into sharp focus the need for urgent action to produce less tailings as we supply the metals and minerals that are critical for the energy transition and sustainable development,” says ICMM CEO Rohitesh Dhawan.

The failure at the Williamson diamond mine, in Tanzania, earlier this month, further highlights the need for effective tailings management.

“If we continue to use traditional production processes, we run the risk of multiplying tailings waste many times over,” he adds.

There is no easy solution, and mines will continue to need tailings storage facilities into the future.

However, this initiative signals the ICMM’s clear intent to act with urgency and purpose to find ways of minimising or potentially eliminating waste at every stage of the mining cycle.

“Work has already begun, but if we are to match our ambition, we need to work collaboratively in accelerating the types of breakthroughs that can be adopted widely in any existing or future operations around the world.”

He concludes that it is the hope of the ICMM that its Tailings Reduction Roadmap and wider Tailings Innovation Initiative will help to identify and accelerate opportunities for wider collaboration and serve as a catalyst for advancing more partnerships between industry and technology innovators on piloting these technologies.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



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