An expert management system for surface tailings storage
This thesis outlines the general design, management and operating parameters that influence the safety and stability of a surface tailings storage facility. A critique of current tailings storage practices, research, regulations, guidelines and the day to day management principals of a storage facility are discussed. Weaknesses and recommendations are presented with a view to reducing the associated risk of surface tailings storage. In the past, the majority of tailings research has focused on the design components to reduce operational costs and the closure methods to establish the most suitable sustainable cover system. The day to day operations and the management strategies of an active tailings storage facility have been somewhat overlooked. Considering that the majority of tailings impoundment failures have been caused by poor operational management, a need for this research was identified. The fundamentals of tailings management are discussed as well as the necessity for training and competency testing of tailings related personnel. The goal of this research is to develop a systematic tailings management system that can be established at any mine site to enhance the consistency of day to day management, reduce risk and increase safety. Accompanying this thesis is an interactive online database that is designed to increase awareness of safe storage practices. This database compliments the managerial components of this thesis by ensuring that the tailings personnel are confident and can implement a tailings management system effectively. In summary, this research provides a novel approach to improving tailings management and provides an interactive training tool focused on increasing a user's ability, awareness and competency on a wide range of tailings storage scenarios. This online tool is supported by a thesis that identifies the fundamentals of today's tailings storage practices, as well as the challenges and managerial requirements to reduce operational risk.