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How Can Geobags Improve Tailings Management in Mining Operations?

Tailings management plays a crucial role in the Australian mining industry. Why does tailings dewatering matter—and how can geobags help?

Large dewatering tubes (geobags) being filled at an iron ore mine site
Dewatering tubes (geobags) being filled at an iron ore mine site.

Key benefits of tailings dewatering with geobags are:

  • Cost savings

  • Reduced footprint of tailings storage facility (TSF)

  • Increased structural integrity of TSF

  • Smaller risk of TSF breaches, improving safety and environmental protection

Tailings storage facilities are designed to store waste materials (tailings) produced during the mining process. These facilities require ongoing maintenance to prevent the release of potentially harmful materials into the surrounding environment.

Geobags can be used during filling of a storage facility to reduce the required volume and reinforce the walls of the facility. The bags can also be used if a tailings dam is full and dredging or dewatering is required.

Geobag during dewatering process

Dewatering with geobags typically reduces moisture content of solids by 50-70 per cent, drastically cutting down on the volume of tailings requiring containment and reducing waste handling and disposal costs.

Separating solids and liquids is important if water treatment is required. Geobags can be used as a crude filter to remove the bulk of solids from an effluent or wastewater, reducing the solids load on downstream water treatment equipment.

Dewatering tailings dams also helps with environmental conservation. Loosely consolidated tailings with high water content are more susceptible to erosion and overflow, increasing the risk of contaminating nearby water sources and ecosystems.

Sustainable practices like dewatering minimise this risk.

Woven geotextile material used to manufacture geobags

Geotextile bags (geobags) are a simple but valuable dewatering technology for mining operations. Tubular in shape, they are made from a permeable woven geotextile that allows water to pass through but retains the solid particles. Tailings slurry is pumped in, the water drains out, and the trapped solids in the bag can be easily handled and transported.

The geotextile material used in these bags is durable and resistant to chemicals, ensuring reliable performance even in remote mining sites or alongside operational facilities. Customisable in size and easily scalable, they allow operators to adjust dewatering capacity according to their specific needs. Standard bag sizes range from 5m to 50m lengths and can be stacked to save space during operation.

Put simply, geobags are a low-cost, highly efficient tool for tailings dam dewatering.

Learn more about bag sizing and availability here, or contact us to discuss your project on 0406 417 281.

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