25 November 2022

BHP and Rio collaborating on tailings technology

BHP and Rio Tinto have formed a partnership agreement to speed development of technology to increase water recovery from tailings, and in turn reduce safety risks and environmental footprints associated with tailings storage facilities.

Pipe with a view
© Erlend Ekseth/Unsplash

According to the companies, the first project will involve testing the application of an innovative large-volume filter unit at a BHP copper mine in Chile, which would remove up to 80% of the water in the tailings stream before it is deposited in a storage facility.

Rio Tinto will bring its experience from implementing smaller-scale tailings filters for bauxite residues at alumina refineries. Both organisations will work in collaboration with leading technology and equipment providers, technical experts, research groups and the academic sector.

Manufacture of the filter unit is already underway. The pilot construction is due to begin in early 2023 and operations are scheduled to commence in early 2024. The pilot will test the potential of a large-scale tailings filter unit for scalability and cost-effec