Tailings Pond Water Balances


Rehabilitation of tailings impoundments for final closure is one of the most challenging aspects facing engineers, as not only does the potential for producing leachate pose a challenge to the rehabilitation designer, but also other aspects such as stability and settlement must be considered. The water balance of tailings impoundment is unique in the sense that it usually hosts a pond that in turn causes a phreatic surface in the impoundment. The position of the phreatic surface defines the saturated and unsaturated zones in the impoundment which of course vary spatially and temporally. Predictive modeling for this hydrologic system becomes difficult, as numerical models capable of analyzing the combined saturated/unsaturated zones are not adequately refined to accurately solve the flux boundary problem for infiltration at the surface of the tailings.


SVFlux™ and SVSlope® offers significant advantages in the analysis of tailings facilities. In particular, the following advantages may be realized:

  • Saturated / unsaturated analysis :SVFlux provides the ability to model both the saturated and unsaturated zones in a tailings facility. Automatic mesh refinement also increases the accuracy of the unsaturated calculations.
  • Climatic coupling : a significant portion of the water balance for a tailings facility is controlled by the climate in the region. SVFlux implements the comprehensive Wilson -- Penman method to calculate actual evaporation and increase the rigor of the model.
  • 3D analysis :many Tailings ponds are irregular in shape and bass are not well-suited for a 2-D analysis. SVFlux offers the advantage of full three-dimensional analysis of tailings facilities.
  • Slope stability analysis :any model created in SVFlux whether it is 2-D or 3-D can be transferred straight across to the SVSlope package and analyzed within the context of stability. The pore-water pressures can be transferred from the SVFlux analysis straight into the SVSlope analysis.

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