If you are involved in tailings and mine waste, you must attend the conference on that topic being planned for October in Vail, Colorado. In addition to your basic interests, here are a few reasons why you should attend.

The Prestige of the Conference

As they say in the new brochure: Tailings and Mine Waste ‘08 is a continuum of a series of symposia on mill tailings management that originally started at Colorado State University in 1978 and subsequently progressed as the annual Tailings and Mine Waste Conferences 1994 through 2004. The primary purpose of the Conference is to provide a forum and meeting place for members of the mining community, engineers and scientists serving the mining industry, regulatory groups and other interest groups concerned with environmental issues related to tailings and mine waste management. Topics related to the engineering and management of tailings and mine waste will be covered, including case histories, design, operation, and disposal for mine waste management, geotechnical considerations, liners, covers and barriers for waste control, reclamation and remediation of mine impacted sites, surface water and groundwater management and geochemistry, and policies, procedures and public safety.

The Papers

I am privy to the abstracts of the papers. It is hardly fair to steal the thunder of the individual presenters and the conference itself. But I can promise that these are some of the topics covered in the abstracts that caught my attention and which I will seek to absorb when they are presented and I can read the full papers:

Mine water balance: there are at least three abstracts that promise papers looking at the water balance of tailings impoundments and mine waste disposal facilities. I personally believe this is the most significant issue in the design of such facilities and in their closure. One of the abstracts rightly points out that average conditions are not the problem; the problems arise for extreme events including drought and flooding.

Uranium mill tailings: although not currently the most significant issue in mine waste disposal, modern practice in the design and operation of new uranium mill tailings impoundments is always a fascinating topic. There is but one paper on this topic and it describes a new mine in the USA.

Thickened tailings: this is a topic that everybody talks about and few implement. Thus we can look forward to some interesting revelations and deliberations on thickened tailings when the three papers flowing from the two abstracts on this topic are presented.

Impoundment design, performance, and closure: there are at least four abstracts that tell the stories of the case histories of actual impoundment design, operation, and closure from South America through the central United States.

Liner performance: I do not like liners beneath tailing impoundment although I recognize their need. There are at least three abstracts promising papers on the selection of geosynthetic liners for impoundments. Not sure they convince me, but I hope to listen to see if I can give the benefit of the doubt.

Heap leach: there is sadly only one abstract on heap leaching and it deals primarily with the issue of partially saturated flow through the pile and we know how inefficient that can be. Although there is an abstract on flow through waste rock dumps and that is not all that different.

Coal waste disposal facilities: this is a “hot” topic and so too will be the two papers promised on this topic.

Technology advances: for those who like new technologies there are at lest two abstracts on this topic. One deals with x-ray characterization of tailings and the other with the washing of tailings to make them clean. Can’t wait for the papers.

Modeling: there is an abstract that does not give much away but it does promise a new way to model 3D performance of tailings drainage and consolidation. And I though FLAC was the only way.

I have not give more detail in this piece; but I promise that in the days ahead I will take a more detailed look at the specific topics I note above. Point is however that nothing I write will ever be able to substitute for the excitement and personal presence of a conference, so if any of these topics is your thing, register now for the conference.