Tailings are the leftover materials from the processing of mined ore. It consists of ground rock, unrecoverable and uneconomic metals, chemicals, and effluent from the process used to extract the desired products from the ore. Tailings can be sulfide-containing residues from ore processing. When exposed to oxygen, sulfides can generate acidic runoffs that pose threats to aquatic ecosystems and waterways. By strategically depositing these materials immersed in water in our tailings dams, they remain isolated, thereby preventing environmental hazards.
Boliden's commitment to this area is profound. Hans Häggström, our Dam Safety Engineer, emphasizes the responsibility assumed by Boliden. "From the moment we start mineral exploration to the eventual restoration of land post-mining, our approach encompasses every step. The company's strategy has been holistic: to instill in everyone a profound comprehension of the significance of dam stability and safety, from our executives making critical management decisions to our people working hands-on at our dam sites. The endgame? Safe and responsible tailings management." he emphasizes. This approach ensures alignment with societal expectations, both in current operations and for future safeguards.
Adaptive methodologies in practice
At our tailings facility Ryllshyttan at Garpenberg, a significant adaptation involves changing the method we use to raise the dam. This proactive measure not only accommodates increasing volumes of tailings but also amplifies the dam's safety.
Another innovative leap can be seen in Kevitsa. Here, Boliden is spearheading research projects focused on enhancing mining dam surveillance. By harnessing cutting-edge monitoring technologies, these initiatives allow for the timely detection of potential risks and swift preventive actions. Additionally, the introduction of "digital twins" – virtual replicas of the actual dam – enables predictive modeling. By simulating varying conditions on this digital platform, potential future risks are anticipated and addressed well before they manifest.
A journey of continuous improvements
Through these focused efforts and adaptive strategies, Boliden highlights its unwavering dedication to both safety and sustainability in tailings management. In centering our initiatives on dam safety and consistently making improvements, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding superior standards, ensuring minimal environmental impacts, and paving the way for a sustainable future.
Read more about our endeavors to improve our tailings management and our work with meeting the global GISTM (Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management) at boliden.com.