ATC Williams supports industry advancement in developing safer tailings storage facilities.
Craig Noske (Senior Principal, Melbourne) and Andrew Fyans (Senior Associate, Melbourne) recently travelled to Oslo, Norway, to attend the Towards Safer Tailings Dams workshop hosted by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI). ATC Williams provided sponsorship for the 2023 event and hosted the Social Dinner on Day 2 of the conference.
The three-day event was held from 12 to 14 September 2023 and welcomed presenters and attendees from around the globe, with strong representation from the academic research, consulting, and mining industry sectors.
With society’s increasing demand for minerals, particularly in the green energy transition, the workshop provided an interactive discussion format on tailings storage facility safety and sustainability.
Safer tailings dams are a global conversation
The conference focused on developing safer tailings dams and improving industry best practices. An open forum was provided to discuss advancements in laboratory testing, planning and design, static liquefaction and dam break runout modelling, remote monitoring and operations, acid mine drainage and environmental protection, and industry standards.
ATC Williams is recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most experienced tailings engineering teams. Therefore, we were proud to participate and engage in interactive discussions with industry leaders in the northern hemisphere regarding current best practices, recent advancements, and evolving challenges in the tailings industry.
Participants discussed current best practice tailings dam safety, with a strong focus on planning and integrating new practices for the future of tailings management in the mining industry.
Andrew and Craig agreed that the presentation and subsequent discussion were significantly related to tailings dam site characterisation, including developing geological and geotechnical models to understand liquefaction susceptibility. This session was presented by Dr Simon Dickinson of BGC Engineering in Canada and Michael Jefferies, now an independent consultant but formerly with Golder and one of the most influential geotechnical engineers of recent times.
State-of-the-art testing facilities
The workshop concluded on Day 3 with a tour of NGI’s extensive Oslo laboratory. The laboratory is divided into three sections: rock mechanics, advanced soil and tailings testing, and basic material characterisation. It was exciting to tour the testing facility, which is extremely impressive and boasts state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, including triaxial, simple direct shear and ring shear equipment. Some equipment is set up inside CT and X-ray scanning machines to provide further information on sample composition.
The three-day workshop proved to be a valuable opportunity to understand the state of the tailings industry in the northern hemisphere and develop networks with key consultants and researchers, particularly from Europe and Canada.