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Boletín de Ciencias de la Tierra

Print version ISSN 0120-3630


BELTRAN-RODRIGUEZ, Lorena N.; LARRAHONDO, Joan M.  and  COBOS, Diego. Emerging technologies for tailings disposal: opportunities for Colombian practice. Bol. cienc. tierra [online]. 2018, n.44, pp.5-20. ISSN 0120-3630.

While Colombia is a country with long mining tradition, expertise and regulation on large-scale mining-waste disposal facilities are scarce. This article describes the current state of the practice of mining waste management in Colombia, particularly tailings, as well as the opportunities and limitations towards the adoption of modern technologies. The traditional practices for tailings management around the world were reviewed, as well as its technical and regulatory aspects in Colombia. In addition, recent technical literature was studied relating emerging technologies for tailings management, focusing on thickening, filtration, cemented-paste backfilling, “piggy-backing”, and submarine tailings disposal. Furthermore, the Colombian regulatory and technological environment was analyzed considering the possible implementation of modern technologies. It is concluded that such emerging technologies minimize mining-project footprints compared to conventional disposal structures, though submarine disposal should currently be avoided. Colombia urgently requires to educate skilled professionals able to tackle the modern massive management of mining waste.

Keywords : tailings; waste rock; tailings dams; tailings storage facilities; thickened tailings; tailings paste; piggy-backing; submarine tailings disposal; acid drainage.

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