Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs) Dust Control Using Biocompatible Polymers

Junnhyeok Park, Kwangmin Kim, Taehee Lee, Minkyu Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Mine tailings storage facilities (TSFs) can be a significant source of fine, respirable dust. This dust poses concerns, especially for nearby communities, because of its detrimental impact on respiratory health. To address these concerns, this study examined the effectiveness of commercially available polymers, known for their biocompatible and environmentally friendly features, to prevent dust generation from upstream-type TSFs in active mining operations. It focused on two areas in TSFs: the tailings beach and slope/dike surfaces. Two types of polymers—polyethylene glycol and poloxamer—were selected, and their effectiveness was evaluated in a series of phased laboratory and field tests. The lab tests investigated the moisture-retention capacity of the tailings after treatment with the polymer solutions as well as the ability of these solutions to reduce dust emissions. Polymers were applied to a tailings bed surface in the lab and dust was generated from this surface using a wind tunnel. PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations were measured using laser-diffraction dust sensors, and the polymers were found to have reduced dust emissions up to 95%. Small-scale wind-blowing tests were conducted in the field (specifically, in a controlled environment at a TSF) to evaluate polymer effectiveness on the tailings beach and slope/dike areas. The tests revealed that the AP could efficiently suppress approximately 80% of PM10 and PM2.5 dust emissions at both types of areas. Finally, 1000 gallons of AP solution were discharged at the top of tailings beach and slope/dike areas, respectively, and found to be effective. The results of these tests showed the high potential of the biocompatible polymers to be a feasible solution for reducing the respirable dust emissions from upstream TSFs in arid and semi-arid regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-795
Number of pages11
JournalMining, Metallurgy and Exploration
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019


  • Biocompatible polymer
  • Desiccation crack
  • Dust control
  • Particulate matter (PM)
  • Tailings beach
  • Tailings storage facility (TSF)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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