2018 – Ash Tailings Dam Rehabilitation – Challenges and Aspirational Targets

Stafford Griffiths

The rehabilitation of wet tailings storages is likely to become of increasing importance. In a setting of increasing environmental regulation and oversight, the environmental issues inherent in wet tailings storages will increase in visibility. This will translate through to increased regulatory attention, rehabilitation standards and costs. This scenario will necessitate increased engineering ingenuity and approaches to develop cost effective and robust/ defensible outcomes.

This case study of a coal fired power station ash dam rehabilitation compares a conventional (baseline) rehabilitation strategy and the development of a higher land use, with potentially beneficial outcomes for the owner, the community and the environment.

The baseline rehabilitation was a conventional fit-for-purpose rehabilitation approach consistent with the proposed final land use comprising the creation of a stable, open greenspace environment. The higher land use was an aspirational target style rehabilitation, with the assessed highest and best use for the site that was determined to be an industrial land development. While there will be limitations due to the low strength tailings foundation, this higher land use is considered an appropriate stretch target and is a feasible outcome for this site.

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