Tailings Handling Alternatives

Steelmaking coal from the Fording River Extension (FRX) will be taken to the processing plant at Fording River Operations. Processing will generate fine tailings (a byproduct of processing), and some but not all of these fine tailings could be stored in the existing South Tailings Pond at Fording River Operations.

Teck is looking at options for tailings management at FRX, and will consider input from government agencies, Indigenous groups, and communities. The options under consideration include tailings technologies with different levels of water content.


Tailings Slurry

The Fording River processing plant currently produces a slurry of fine tailings mixed with water. The slurry is approximately 95% water by weight and is transported by pipelines and pumps to the tailings pond.

  • Benefits of the tailing slurry are that no additional equipment is needed, and no additional energy would be used to transform the slurry into another form.
  • Water from the tailings pond is collected and re-used in the processing plant.

Thickened Tailings

Thickening tailings requires energy and specialized equipment to remove water from the tailings slurry. The thickened tailings have a consistency similar to toothpaste and are transported through large pipelines using specialized pumps.

  • More energy is required, compared to the tailings slurry. Energy is needed to remove water, and to transport the tailings.
  • Some of the water removed from the tailings would be available for re-use in the processing plant.

Dry Tailings

Nearly all the water can be removed from the fine tailings to store them in a dry form (less than 20% water by weight), with a consistency similar to wet sand. The dry tailings can be transported by truck or conveyor.

  • Dry tailings have the highest energy requirements and potentially the largest greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Almost all the water would be recovered for re-use in the processing plant.
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