Sulfide Tails Management Within the Framework of Sustainable Development in Mineral Sand Mines—The Case Study of Sierra Rutile Ltd.

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The study discussed here assessed Sierra Rutile Ltd.’s (SRL’s) water-cover sulfide tails management method. Monthly and quarterly water samples from SRL’s Sulfide Tails Pond (STP), Total Tails Pond (TTP), and the Titan Domestic Pond (TDP) were analyzed for 15 months. Results indicated acceptable quality for the STP. From Student’s t-test analysis, it was found that the mean pH of the TTP was significantly lower than that of the TDP (p < .05). Results did not indicate pollution of the TDP by SRL’s tailings management. The water-cover method significantly suppressed sulfide oxidation in the STP. Concerns to be addressed, however, include potential overtopping of the pond, water level fluctuations, and the need for periodic reinforcement of the tailings embankments. A dedicated environmental monitoring campaign that includes other proximate water bodies is suggested; this should inform timely mitigation of any environmental contamination and promote sound environmental and public health outcomes.

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