A Waste Fines Cell with a Multitude of Coincidental Activities

Co-disposal of tailings and coarse wastes

Johan Boshoff


This iron ore mine site, located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, commenced operations in 1998, with ore derived by mining of open-cut pits in Channel Iron Deposits (CIDs). A portion of the ore extracted at the mine is processed at wet processing plants that produce both ore saleable product and waste fines (i.e. tailings) slurry.  The waste fines produced at these wet plants are presently stored within Waste Fines Cells (WFCs).

This particular WFC is located within an active pit.  The pit is an Autonomous Haul System (AHS) area.  The WFC consists of two main embankments (northern and southern) that span the width of the pit in east-west alignments, and an additional embankment along the eastern edge of the pit (the eastern embankment).

Technical studies and design analyses were carried out to support embankment raises and ongoing development of the WFC. During operation of the WFC, a multitude of simultaneous activities took place to the immediate north and south of the WFC respectively. These activities included the construction of the embankment raises utilising the AHS fleet, mining of the CID to not only mine the ore, but to also create future deposition space, blasting next to the WFC embankments as part of the mining activities, seepage collection and dewatering of the pit in the vicinity of the WFC.

This paper will discuss the site and material characteristics, design approach, construction staging and equipment, blasting near embankments, water management, facility consequence category, safety in design, emergency response plan and operating procedures.

Share with your social network.