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WikiProject Mining (Rated C-class, High-importance)
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Quote: "Tailings are not an option for a mine that has mills it ore." Pardon? What is that meant to mean? Liam Proven (talk) 14:04, 31 May 2009 (UTC)


This article is rather important and really needs expansion. Example mines from different mineral types should be cited to give a world wide perspective and span various minerals Suisun 01:32, 17 January 2007 (UTC) suisun


The use of the word gangue to describe tailings is inaccurate. Gangue is the worthless fraction of an ore, the stuff you don't want. Gangue can be removed at many stages, for example when excavating the ore the gangue can be directed to a waste dump, if separation is possible at that stage. Gangue as a term has particular application in pyrometalurgy and pyrochemistry. Gangue deserves an entry on it's own. Added: In general is Gangue undesirable and valueless material in small quantities, such as quartz bits in an ore —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 15:04, 22 February 2007 (UTC).


I just correctly formatted the tailings disposal methods. -- Autumninjersey 17:36, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

A bit uneven?[edit]

It seems that parts of this article are very pro mining. They minimize the impact of tailings. I would like to change, but know nothing about the subject on hand here. (talk) 23:52, 11 December 2008 (UTC)Hicham Vanborm

I would say extremely so.

The article has apparently been greenwashed. Tailings are commonly considered as the most relevant environmental issue of mining. Very damaging tailings disposal techniques are still around, even in current and large operations. E.g. Olympic dam, a large Australian Copper-Uranium mine, producing approx. 8% of the worlds uranium primary production. Have a look at their tailings disposal site: All the red and green discoloration indicates massive problems with Acid Rock Drainage, this producer has not been able to prevent. Or look at the largest gold mine of the world: the Grasberg Mine in West Papua (Indonesia). The tailings are dumped into the river at the mine and they pile up in flatter terrain before reaching the sea: This produces a whole landscape of 30km in length of totally uncontrolled tailings dump site. The current author likes to marginalize these operations ('In today's modern mining environment, it is difficult to find mining operators continuing to engage in tailings storage methods that are not environmentally friendly, but these operations do exist.'). Fact is, it is very hard to control the pollution potential in tailings, especially in the long-term. Most dispsoal methods address maybe some decades of stability. Also formulations like "wrecking the planet" are not appropriate for an encyclopedia. As soon as I can find some time, I'll rework this article. -- (talk) 16:14, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

A bit abysmal, I would say. If anyone's got an article from *any* reputable publication talking about the problems with mine tailing runoffs, they could probably do a huge difference by adding cited examples of the problems. --Alvestrand (talk) 04:05, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
OK, I read Jared Diamond's book "Collapse" some time after making the last comment, and discovered that he devotes a section to the problem of hardrock mining. It was easy enough to extract some choice statements here that made the article look less lopsided. --Alvestrand (talk) 20:44, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

I don't think this is as unbalanced as some of the above comments suggest. Tailings management has been poor in the past, but is presently a substantial part of mining costs and activities. I agree that not all tailings have been well managed, and there are certainly huge concerns that areas such as oil sands tailings still are of major concern - however I think the article conveys that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by DiligentDavidG (talkcontribs) 17:06, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

The article has changed substantially since the POV issues were originally raised. The article now has sections on environmental issues, references to many modern disasters that have happened with tailings and points out the environmental pros and cons of a variety of storage methods. Isn't it about time we removed the tag? Handschuh-talk to me 00:39, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

Merge discussion[edit]

It has been suggested that Tailings should be merged with Slag heap.

  • Oppose. 1) Slag is a smelting byproduct, while tailings are a mining byproduct, and 2) piling tailings up in heaps is just one of the methods discussed on Tailings. --Alvestrand (talk) 03:42, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Different stuff. Vsmith (talk) 00:24, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

I realize it's a year later, but after two votes against and none for, Slag heap redirects to Tailings. There is an article on Slag, and and article on Tailings. Shouldn't Slag heap redirect to Slag? I do question the need for a separate Slag heap article, with an article on Slag, it should be pretty obvious, unless someone needs an in-depth article describing the word "heap."BSMet94 (talk) 18:30, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

Tailings heap?[edit]

A pile of waste slag is a slag heap, but is it correct to describe a pile of tailings as a slag heap too - or is there another name for this? Obscurasky (talk) 16:54, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Since tailings aren't slagged, I don't think they should be called a slag heap. A "tailings heap" seems reasonable. --Alvestrand (talk) 14:15, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

Coal mine tailings[edit]

I reverted an edit with the edit summary "Coal mine waste isn't called tailings". Since a quick Google search came up with this US Govt paper, as well as a few hundred thousand other usages of "coal", "mine" and "tailings" together, I think this non-usage is not documented. --Alvestrand (talk) 14:15, 15 November 2009 (UTC)


Does the photo really show dry stacked tailings, or is it actually a spoil tip? If the latter, it's not directly related to the subject of this page and should be replaced by a more appropriate image.Obscurasky (talk) 21:24, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

Tailings dam example - HVC mine, British Columbia[edit]

I saw a curious feature yesterday when flying out of Vancouver. It turned out to be the Highland Valley Copper tailings dam - 10 km long by 1 km wide.

Article about the HVC here:

Picture in Google Maps here:,-121.088562&spn=0.144509,0.32032&sll=37.6,-95.665&sspn=45.555928,82.001953&t=h&hq=hvc+mine+bc&hnear=California&z=12

The picture I took:

Highland Valley Copper Mine.JPG

Is this a good example to add to the article? --Alvestrand (talk) 03:57, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Gallium, Indium[edit]

I was wodering if these two elements used to make solar panels, byproduce toxic materials, or if all elements mined produce some toxicity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:19, 16 May 2013 (UTC)


The article needs a fines/penalties section. "$3-million in penalties after 1,600 ducks died " --Mark v1.0 (talk) 12:30, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Mount Polley mine disaster[edit]

This is a new article about a major current spill in Canada, see Wikipedia_talk:Canadian_Wikipedians'_notice_board#Mount_Polley_mine_disaster.Skookum1 (talk) 01:41, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Composition section[edit]

I am no advocate of mine tailings of toxic wastes, etc, but the section on composition, which is pretty scary, appears to be "synthesis", i.e. made up by well intentioned editors who are guessing.

  • Regarding "Common minerals and elements found in tailings include" I imagine that some tailings are pretty awful, some are just unslightly, and many are in between, but this sections is too vague and makes generalizations.
  • Regarding "Common additives found in tailings" also reads suspiciously facile, although again I am sure that problems occur. Almost all extracting agents are hydrolyzed, probably ranging from weeks (cyanide at room temp is unstable in water) to maybe a little longer. The idea that "calcium" is found in these wastes reinforces that reputation that Wikipedia has that such articles are written by hippies who have a deep environmental conscience but a shallow technical knowledge.

So I was going to rework that section, and welcome comments from interested editors. --Smokefoot (talk) 18:43, 28 September 2014 (UTC)