Why do we need a Tailings Dam?
Today, more than ever, Pueblo Viejo faces the great challenge of maintaining its output to continue supplying and boosting the national economy through responsible mining. The mine is facing a drastic reduction in ore reserves, which may translate into a negative impact on the Dominican Republic’s mining industry and the collection of taxes and revenues for the neighboring communities.
At Barrick Pueblo Viejo, in the first seven years of operation, the ore grade was 66% higher for the expected 2020 – 2024 period, and 123% higher than the average projected life-of-mine (LOM) after 2025. Previously, production was 1.2 million ounces per year, which has gradually decreased to 903,000 ounces due to the life-of-mine cycle.
To face this great challenge, it is essential to have a tailings warehouse or tailings dam, a space where the inert materials resulting from the mining process are deposited. Currently, Pueblo Viejo has a tailings dam, El Llagal, which has an optimal operation lifespan until 2027.
Thus, the need arises to study a new facility to store the waste resulting from the mining process, an area that meets the social, technical, and environmental requirements, to continue guaranteeing Doré output in Pueblo Viejo.
What is a Tailings Dam?
A Tailings dam is a term mistakenly attributed to pollution and environmental damage. To help demystify this perception, here we explain the ABC of a tailings dam:
THE CURRENT SCENARIO OF ALL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENTS
To Barrick, selecting the ideal location for a tailings dam is not a light decision. To duly comply with environmental regulations, a strategic environmental assessment must be conducted to select the least hazardous alternative with a view to preventing and mitigating potential impact.
Per the law, this process must involve the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MIMARENA), whereby an international public tender bid, selects an independent agency of renowned reputation and proven field experience to undertake this analysis. Regardless of this process, Barrick Pueblo Viejo is responsible for conducting an assessment to compare results with the State and to ensure the selection of the most suitable site from a social and environmental point of view.