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Tailings ponds contain toxic materials that won’t ever go away, and yet they must survive earthquakes, erosion and intense weather events, perhaps for hundreds, or even thousands of years.
Site conditions, topography and environmental factors all play critical roles in determining the type and placement of a tailings storage facility.
At first blush, tailings ponds are fairly simple structures that hold tailings and enough water to cover them completely, which makes ponds one of the most cost-effective and widely used storage options.
The term tailings refers to the residue that’s left after the usable materials have been recovered.
The first step in processing raw ore is reducing the rocks and various chunks to small, uniform sizes.
Mining and, indeed, ore processing have been around for thousands of years, with evidence of lead smelting discovered as early as 4000 BCE in the Fertile Crescent.