Geosynthetics solutions in mining

On September 8 to the 11 2014, InfoMine is hosting the first international conference on Geosynthetics Solutions in Mining. Why a conference on geosynthetics in mining when there are other conferences on geosynthetics? Two reasons: first because geosynthetics in mining have to solve problems not commonly encountered in civil construction; and second because almost half the sales of geosynthetics are to mines and mining projects.

Here are some of the people on mines who deal with geosynthetics in mining:

  • mining engineers who need, commission, pay for, and use mine structures and facilities that involve the use of geosynthetics
  • miners, particularly underground miners who have to backfill stopes (usually with tailings) and who use geosynthetics to build the bulkheads and retaining structures needed to manage the fluid backfill while it sets up and solidifies
  • civil engineers who design, construct, operate and close the tailings facilities, heap leach pads, and waste rock dumps that involve geosynthetics liners, covers and reinforcing
  • environmental engineers and scientists who need to make sure that seepage from ponds and mine waste facilities does not make it into the groundwater and contaminate resources
  • groundwater hydrologists who definitely do not want the groundwater contaminated by waste seepage or who may have to design and install seepage control and collection systems such as cutoff walls and seepage-collection trenches
  • surface water hydrologists who have to line the swales, channels, and spillways through and over which mine waters flow
  • regulators who have to approve mine facilities that incorporate geosynthetics
  • geosynthetic manufacturers, suppliers and installers who must know and understand the technical and engineering aspects of mines where their products are used and installed
  • contractors come to build mine roads over swamps and bogs, construct retaining walls, place liners and erosion control materials and install geosynthetics in mining as compared to civil facilities
  • lawyers who may have to deal with payment disputes or the unlikely law suits stemming from failure of geosynthetic-incorporating mine facilities

This new conference series from InfoMine caters to all these people and more. And with over a hundred participants already registered, we are certain you will meet these people and get a chance to discuss your issues with them.

In addition to a roster of renowned keynote speakers and many excellent technical papers, the conference is supported by almost every manufacturer, supplier and installer of geosynthetics. I know many of them will be showcasing new products and innovative solutions. This is an opportunity to come up to speed with new geosynthetics products that may well solve the issues at your mine.

More: we have two excellent courses preceding the conference. These are:

  1. Geosynthetic Design Considerations for Heap Leach Pads – “Extreme Fill Loads on Geomembrane Liner Systems” by Tim Stark, Robert Swan, Allan Breitenbach, and Kerry Rowe
  2. Introduction to Geosynthetics in Mining by Dirk van Zyl, Sam Allen, and Terry Mandziak

It is hard to find so many experts on geosynthetics in one place. These courses are a one-time opportunity for all who are involved with solving the problems of mining using geosynthetics.

Back to the keynote speakers. We are most fortunate that the following people of renown and repute will be presenting keynote addresses.

  • Ed Kavazanjian, Ph.D., Professor of Civil Engineering, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, Arizona State University, USA who will bring insight to the topic Design of geomembranes for tailings impoundments
  • R. Jonathan Fannin, D. Phil., Professor and Associate Head (Graduate Programs), University of British Columbia Civil Engineering, Canada who has done more work than most on Geosynthetics filter performance
  • Robert C. Bachus, Ph.D., P.E., Principal Engineer, Geosyntec Consultants, USA who will transfer lessons learnt in Geosynthetic solutions from landfills applicable to mines
  • Neven Matasovic, Ph.D., P.E., G.E., Principal, Geosyntec Consultants, USA who is the expert on the topic of Earthquakes and geosynthetics in mining
  • Allan Breitenbach, P.E., Principal Geotechnical Engineer, Environment and Sustainability, Ausenco Vector, USA whose practical knowledge we will hear about in his talk on Geosynthetics in heap leach facility design and operation
  • Bernard Breul, Coletanche Technical Director, Axter Coletanche, USA whose topic is Bitumen geosynthetics solutions for mines
  • Mark Smith, P.E., G.E., D.GE., President, RRD International Corp and Board Member, Brazilian Nickel, USA who will talk on International perspectives on mines geosynthetics use and opportunities
  • Matt Fuller, Founding Principal, Tierra Group International, USA whose experience is distilled in a talk on Thirty years of geosynthetics in tailings management

From these keynote addresses alone, we will surely gain a vast amount of information and insight.

There are papers on the issues that arise at every mine: puncture resistance, durability, leakage, clogging, response to leachate, cold climate installation and, of course, installation QA/QC. I cannot possibly write about each and every one of the many technical papers. So here are just a few:

  • Franco and Cesar Oboni will talk on the use of risk assessment in the design of mine structures that incorporate geosynthetics and have to last for up to 1,000 years – see their paper Geosynthetics Risk-Based Design in Mining.
  • Ernie Naesgaart and Peter Byrne will talk on the use of the computer code FLAC to model the response of soft tailings to placement of a geosynthetic-base floating cover on an oil sand tailings facility – see their paper Numerical Modeling of Soil Cover over Tailings Slurry.
  • Steve Dorman and John Cole of SLR will tell us of the use of geomembranes in uranium mill tailings facilities in Namibia and South Africa. See their paper Husab Tailings Storage Facility Containment Design.
  • Leppänen Minna M., Tampere University of Technology, Finland have an exciting paper on Finnish Mine Waste Disposal Areas involving geosynthetics.
  • Chris Eichelberger, American Environmental Group in their paper Zero Leak Liners: Money in Your Pocket will challenge us all to install zero-leak liners, a difficult undertaking at best.
  • Brian Baillie and Greg Wright, in their paper High-Performance Geosynthetics for Shallow Cover Void Bridging on Mining and Construction Sites present case studies of one of the most exciting uses of geosynthetics I have come across.

The list goes on. I encourage you to take a look at the full program at this link. Surely there is something and indeed many things (topics) from which you can gain. While all these papers and more will be in the proceedings, there is nothing quite like hearing those who did the work talk about it live.

Finally, the weather in Vancouver is at its best in September. So come enjoy the views and the restaurants and meet old and new friends.

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