May 17, 2020

How-To: Implement Efficient Tailing Management in Operations

Operational Efficiency
Mining mainten
2 min
Tailings Management: Overcoming A Unique Mining Challenge
Most of the emphasis on operational efficiency and cost reduction is on the part of the production stream that extracts product for further processing a...

Most of the emphasis on operational efficiency and cost reduction is on the part of the production stream that extracts product for further processing and sale. The tailings department usually manages what’s left that cannot be sold. Consequently, there is often little focus on improving tailings management activities unless an event happens. Then all eyes are on tailings, especially if that event reduces or stops production.  

Tailings are a critical step in the production flow. Without it, production stops. Many very different kinds of tasks fall under the tailings umbrella. Projects such as lifts require strong project management skills. Routine maintenance of valves, hoses and lines must be scheduled. The execution of preventive and quick-response dust control plans keep particulate levels below environmental limits. An in-depth knowledge of pump operations and slurry flow is required to “manage” deposition. To complicate matters further, every tailings management team must coordinate and simultaneously monitor all of these activities over a very large geographical area, sometimes miles across.

A common concern for tailings supervisors is knowing if each crew is doing what needs to be done to accomplish the goals of the department, especially if the supervisors are “roving”. So, how can a tailings department feel confident that they can effectively manage so many different kinds of tasks and meet their goals? One thing that I suggest is a plan for the day that is created by the supervisors in a joint meeting. This plan includes equipment status, shift rotations, 5000-23 qualifications, short term goals and long-term projects. Reaching agreement on a daily plan unifies the tailings management team and gives each supervisor a broader perspective of the work to be done and how crews will meet those goals. The plan can be constructed so that each supervisor can take a copy of it in his truck when the planning meeting concludes.

This portable plan greatly improves communications between supervisors and enables them to “co-manage” a large geographical area effectively. 

About the author: Kay Sever is an industry leader in performance optimization and change acceleration. She helps companies experience “break-through change” by removing the barriers that hold them back. To assist with this work, Kay created a management training program that changes the way people think about change, their role in change and their beliefs about what is possible to change and achieve. It prepares companies for the optimization process and builds trust and management credibility.

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Jun 29, 2021

Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations

battery metals
2 min
Vale’s $150mn investment in operations at Thompson, Manitoba will extend mine life by 10 years

Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.

Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel

The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.

“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.

“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”

Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba

Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.

“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.

“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”

The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history.  Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.

“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.

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