Goldcorp and FLSmidth have been recognized for their co-development of EcoTailsTM, as the joint winners of the Mining Magazine Editor’s Award 2017, an award given annually to celebrate outstanding new technologies, innovations and initiatives within the mining sector.
EcoTailsTM is a new mining system in pre-feasibility at Goldcorp that improves tailings and waste rock disposal while recovering as much as 95% of the tailings water. Initiated by Simon Hille, Goldcorp’s Vice President of Technical Services, and Mike Jacobs, Goldcorp’s Director of Water and Tailings, EcoTailsTM is an entirely new way of thinking about mine waste management and water conservation. In essence, the process blends filtered tailings with waste rock in transit – creating a geotechnically stable product called GeoWaste, and eliminates the need to keep conventional slurry tailings contained in a dam and submerged in water. The resulting environmental benefits are: no tailings dam, lower fresh water use, reduced acid rock drainage, a smaller mine footprint, and less overall risk.
“EcoTails helps us to reduce the total footprint of a mining operation by combining the two major footprint consumers (the tailings facility and the waste rock facility) into a single facility,” says Hille. “We want to lead the industry in terms of this type of innovation, and to be in a position to eliminate wet tailings facilities into the future.”
In an explanatory video, Hille goes on to say, “EcoTails is the cornerstone of our Towards Zero Water strategy, and underpins our sustainability vision to reduce our environmental impact on any level we can. Once we’ve proven the technology it has very broad applications across the portfolio and into the wider industry.”
EcoTailsTM has been developed in collaboration with FLSmidth, a market-leading supplier of productivity to the global mining and cement industries. “Together, we have developed a solution that significantly reduces the environmental impact of tailings in the mining industry. We are proud to have partnered with Goldcorp in developing such an innovative solution for the benefit of our customers, the environment and the local communities,” says Manfred Schaffer, Group Executive Vice President of the FLSmidth Minerals Division.
A pre-feasibility study for the EcoTailsTM system is currently being conducted, with the intention of having a demonstration plant in operation at a Goldcorp mine. Once the system completes testing, it will be offered commercially by FLSmidth.