oa Civil Engineer in South Africa - Centreline tailings impoundments

Volume 25, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0009-7845



Most tailings impoundments in South Africa are constructed by the upstream method. The dry climate, low seismic risk and availability of relatively flat ground ensure the continued use of such methods. However the centreline method of constructing tailings impoundments is advantageous if either

  • The terrain is steep or mountainous
  • Earthquakes may liquefy the tailings
  • Pollution control requires an impermeable core, or
  • Seepage control to preclude piping is desirable.
This paper describes the basic elements of the centerline construction of tailings impoundments. Centerline impoundments discussed in the literature and two recently designed by the authors are described in order to illustrate the main features of such impoundments. The following aspects investigated or evolved during the design of the two planned impoundments are discussed in some detail:
  • Stage curves in impoundment design
  • The mass balance of an impoundment
  • The static and dynamic stability of centerline embankments.

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