The end of 2019 brought SME’s annual Arizona Conference, where issues and topics specific to the Southwest mining industry were explored in depth among regional experts in the field. Under rare, heavy and gray clouds that brought thunderstorms overnight and steady rain throughout the conference, the roughly 500 participants made the most of the indoor amenities offered at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, AZ, Dec. 9. And with a full lineup of regional-focused content on the agenda, there was plenty of learning and networking to occupy this year’s attendees.
The conference quickly turned its attention to the growing issue of tailings management to kick off Monday morning’s keynote. With more than 40 years of experience in research, teaching and consulting in tailings and mine waste rock disposal and heap-leach design, Dirk Van Zyl, professor of mining engineering, Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia, presented his keynote lecture to a full ballroom. His presentation, “Tailings Governance: Are We Up to the Challenge?” addressed the realities of tailings management and whether, as an industry, stakeholders are ready to accept and embrace the governance challenges inherent to mining-waste management.