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Waste Rock Management

Mining processes generate two kinds of waste products: pieces of rock from the mining operations and fine rock materials and perhaps chemicals from the mineral processing operations.

Waste rock, foreground, from Diavik Diamond Mine open pits. Top right is the mine’s processed kimberlite containment area. To study waste rock, the mine built the world’s largest waste rock test pile. For a feature from the mine’s newsletter click herePhoto: Diavik Diamond Mines 

Waste rock is permanently stored at the mine site in hills or used for filling or constructing roads and other infrastructure.

Processed rock is stored in what are called tailings ponds at some mines to reflect they also contain chemicals, or processed kimberlite containment ponds at diamond mines, to reflect the non-chemical processing systems used there.

Wherever possible, chemical solutions are recycled to be used several times before being pumped into disposal areas, along with the pulverized waste rock. These areas, known as tailings ponds, are carefully designed to prevent any materials from escaping and polluting nearby rivers or lakes.

The waste will be secured during mining, and permanently managed during the closure and reclamation phase.