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Myth Buster: breaking down the barriers to AMC

The mining industry and communities are grappling with the challenge of effectively managing mine tailings while balancing economic viability, environmental sustainability and safety.

Accelerated Mechanical Consolidation (AMC®), colloquially known as ‘mudfarming’, offers a proven solution to the pressing challenge of tailings management. It delivers rapid separation of water from solids in deposited tailings, resulting in denser, drier deposition material that is safer and more stable over time.

Despite its benefits, many in the mining industry are resistant to AMC. In this article, we shed light on some of the complexities and dynamics within the industry and why Phibion’s unique AMC solution presents a valid and beneficial addition to tailings management.

Barriers to the large-scale adoption of traditional solutions

Traditional practices. For decades, mining operations have relied on conventional methods of tailings management, such as natural consolidation and filtration, which are familiar and entrenched in industry norms.

The inertia of tradition often impedes the adoption of new technologies and practices, including mudfarming.

Phibion’s award-winning MudMaster® solution operates in Australia, Jamaica, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia and Bulgaria. The Phibion AMC® solution can be deployed to legacy tailings, including for site closure purposes, with proven effectiveness. Worsley Alumina, for example, has publicly stated that “the current methodology of thickened tailings disposal, in conjunction with intensive mudfarming, and constant removal of ponded surface water, was comparable to filtration and stacking in terms of performance.” (pg 8, SOUTH32 Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, Public Disclosure, Worsley Alumina)

Capital Investment. In general, tailings management requires upfront investment in specialised equipment and infrastructure, including filtration and thickening plants and associated machinery. The initial capital outlay can be substantial, and place financial stress on the operation. Implementation can be lengthy and ongoing maintenance costs are expensive.

Phibion's AMC solution, however, offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional tailings management methods, with no upfront capital costs and affordable operating costs compared to technologies like filtration and dry stacking. By providing a solution-as-a-service model, Phibion alleviates the financial burden associated with upfront investments in equipment and infrastructure, making AMC accessible and affordable for mining operations of all sizes.

Operational challenges. Implementing traditional methods within existing mining operations could entail logistical and operational challenges. Coordinating the deployment of these solutions in managing tailings deposition cycles and integrating them into the overall mine plan require careful planning and coordination, which may disrupt established workflows and routines.

The Phibion solution addresses these operational challenges by developing a fully integrated tailings management solution. The MudMaster® is the only Amphibious Roller that can be configured to fit the specific characteristics of a tailings dam, and the only machine with dual speed hydraulic drive motors that can deliver a combined 40,000 Nm torque, enabling it to get through the sandiest conditions and cover the largest working area of any machine in a single working shift. The Phibion solution is fully scalable to accommodate any sized TSF as opposed to traditional methods that are very limited in their ability to handle larger production rates and throughput.

Risk perception. Concerns about operational reliability, performance variability, and unforeseen challenges in implementing mudfarming may deter risk-averse stakeholders from embracing the technology.

The Phibion service model allows customers to cancel their contract and release the equipment back, giving greater flexibility and reducing risk to mine operators. Customers also benefit from any hardware or software upgrades when they become available, without needing to invest capital.

Lack of industry awareness. Limited awareness and understanding of mudfarming among industry stakeholders hinders its widespread adoption. The absence of comprehensive data, case studies, and real-world examples showcasing the efficacy of mudfarming contributes to scepticism and reluctance within the mining community.

Phibion's commitment to innovation and continuous improvement sets it apart as a leader in the field of tailings management. With a dedicated research and development team and a track record of technological innovation, Phibion delivers reliable, cutting-edge solutions tailored to the unique needs and challenges of each mining operation. From autonomous Amphibious Rollers to real-time monitoring and reporting tools, Phibion's AMC technology represents the future of tailings management in the mining industry.

Phibion's AMC technology creates denser, drier tailings beds that enhance stability, minimise environmental impact, and reduce safety risks associated with conventional tailings storage facilities.

It’s a cost-effective alternative to traditional tailings management methods, with lower capital and operating costs compared to technologies like filtration and dry stacking.

With its focus on safety, sustainability, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and innovation, Phibion empowers mining operations to overcome obstacles, mitigate risks, and embrace a more sustainable approach to tailings management. By choosing Phibion's AMC solution, mine owners can pave the way for a safer and more prosperous future for the mining industry and the communities it serves.


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