Tailings Management

Tailings Management

Areas of Study: Geotechnics

Qualifies for Certification

This course is intended for those whose work or interest is related to tailings management: designers, operators, and managers of tailings facilities as well as the general public and regulators.

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Certification available for Not Available
  • Audience Level:
  • Professional
  • Enrollment:
  • Required
  • Duration:
  • 18 hours

Course Summary


This is a comprehensive course that covers all aspects of tailings management from tailings generation and storage facility design to closure. The course also provides case histories of tailings facility closure and decommissioning, as well as details of incidents and failure from the past from which much can be learned. Because the consequences of failure of a tailings storage facility are generally significant, and there have been several failures in recent years (such as the Mount Polley Tailings Dam in 2014, and Samarco's Fundão Tailings Dam in 2015), it is the responsibility of anyone involved in the design, construction, operation, or closure of a tailings facility to be fully cognisant of every aspect of tailings management, as presented in this course.

This course is intended for those whose work or interest is related to tailings management: designers, operators, and managers of tailings facilities as well as the general public and regulators. Although this course is prepared in North America, considerable effort has gone into presenting information that will find general application around the world. Wherever practicable, applications having regional representation are also presented.

The principal topics covered by this course include the following:

  • tailings characteristics and construction materials;
  • storage options, construction methods, and failure prevention;
  • project settings, environmental considerations, and dam engineering;
  • guidelines, documentation, and training for operation and management;
  • planning for closure and decommissioning;
  • incidents and failures; and
  • case histories.

Course Content

This course includes 22 learning sessions, each of between 30 and 60 minutes duration, 7 appendices of case histories, and 6 interactive reviews. The total duration of the course is approximately 18 hours.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify and discuss the characteristics of tailings and the materials available for storage facility construction.
  • Identify, discuss, and apply the engineering principles of a tailings storage facility from site selection to design, construction, and environmental considerations.
  • Recognize the different failure modes and associated risks that may occur with tailings storage facilities and how to deal with these in the design and operation processes.
  • Identify and discuss the considerations and concerns with respect to closure and decommissioning of a tailings facility.

Recommended Background

  • A degree in geotechnical engineering or equivalent is recommended.

Robert C. Lo

Dr. Lo is a civil engineer majoring in geotechnical engineering with minors in geology and water resources. After graduating from Harvard University, he joined TAMS Engineers and Architects in New York and worked on the Tarbela Hydroelectric Project in Pakistan for two years. Subsequently, he moved to Vancouver and has been working with Klohn Crippen Berger and its various predecessors. His areas of competence are mine waste management, dam, earthquake, geotechnical and permafrost engineering. He has been involved in major mining and civil projects in North and South America, Asia and Europe, and has published widely in technical journals, at conferences and online. In addition, he has been active in national and international committees on earthquake and tailings dam engineering, and participated in post-disaster investigations on buildings and infrastructures.