To ensure the continued sustainability of its operation, a large-scale copper mine in central Africa required an innovative and cost-effective solution to extend the lifespan of its tailings storage facility.

Thanks to the expertise and out-of-the-box approach delivered by slurry pipeline specialist Paterson & Cooke and electrical infrastructure expert Zest WEG Group, the result has delivered on every front, writes LAURA CORNISH.

The result of many years of depositing tailings material from the operation’s process plant to its valley impoundment tailings storage facility (TSF) has seen the south side of the facility approach the end of its lifespan.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 5, 2019
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Having worked with the mine for several years, Paterson & Cooke senior engineer Bruno Salvoldi explains that these valley impoundments are always carefully positioned taking the area and more specifically the local topography into account, as well as the location of the process plant.

“The plant was built on the south side in close proximity to the TSF, with the understanding that with time the need would arise for the mine to continue pumping tailings to the far north side of the facility.”

The TSF is 7 km in length and housed between two embankments, 30 m in height on the western end downstream and 20 m in height on the eastern end upstream.

“This is an extremely large site and the requirement to transfer and pump material to the furthest reaches of the facility without being able to take the most direct route over the dam itself required a unique approach, one also driven by the need to be as cost effective as possible,” Salvoldi continues.

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