Tailings, the deposits of the future

With this provocative name, the Alta Ley National Mining Program, an initiative promoted by Corfo and the Ministry of Mining, held a seminar on August 2, which brought together more than 100 representatives of the mining industry, services, academia and the public sector.

5 January, 2018

Santiago, August 2. For the director of the High Law Program, Mauro Valdés, the seminar was an unprecedented event, in which for the first time different actors meet to discuss one of the main challenges that mining has.

In the event, the JRI – EcoMetales-Frugro Consortium, which executes the project “Identification, Quantification and Technological Extraction of Value Elements from Tailings”, had an outstanding participation through three presentations. In the first, Roberto Mallea, project director, gave an account of the objectives and progress of the initiative. Mallea stressed that the project will generate guides and manuals for public use that will facilitate the process of recognition and extraction of value from the dams. He also noted that there is a particular concern that the process of obtaining value decreases the generation of waste.

For his part, Juan Rayo, General Manager of JRI, gave a detailed characterization of the tailings composition in Chile; of the techniques used in the recovery of minerals and elements and the investment and operation costs of value recovery initiatives. “Tailings have to be massive to be profitable,” he said. Rayo also emphasized that the “re-deposit” of waste from the value recovery process is a relevant challenge to address.

Finally, Iván Valenzuela, General Manager of EcoMetales, reflected on the need to leverage these research projects, and that they do not remain as failed or early death attempts, as occurred with recovery processes of other minerals, in past decades. For Valenzuela, efforts in this area must be promoted by the State, through long-term policies that in some way force companies to take charge of tailings and waste in general. The objective is that this obligation becomes an engine that drives technological developments and new businesses, which finally converge with the environmental objectives of reducing impacts and cleaning up liabilities, thus building a more sustainable mining.

The meeting was also attended by Sernageomín, Codelco Tech, Csiro and the experiences of recovery of value from tailings dam of Minera Valle Central and CAP. In addition, the Minister of Mining, Aurora Williams and the Vice President of Corfo, Eduardo Bitrán, were present at the event.

See all the presentations here.