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Rainy River Completes Largest Tailings Dam Expansion to Date

2023 saw the completion of the Stage 5 dam raise of the Tailings Management Area (TMA) at the Rainy River Mine. Each year, a dam expansion is required to enable milling operations to continue throughout the life of the mine. This latest dam raise was one of the most successful at the site.

As the largest dam raise to date, the Rainy River team, in conjunction with the main dam raise contractor, increased the height of the dam by two metres.  The work was successfully completed ahead of schedule, and in a feat not accomplished before, ahead of the arrival of freezing temperatures. Since January 2023, SRK Consultants has overseen construction quality assurance to ensure the dam performs as designed.

With each dam raise, the construction team at Rainy River gains further experience, enabling them to further finetune their expertise. In 2022, they completed one kilometre section of the dam raise and in 2023, it was 1.5 kilometres. For Stage 6, the team is expecting to raise the dam by another metre.

Incorporated in this latest expansion is the automated capture of instrument readings, implemented through a collaboration between New Gold’s Geographic Information System team and the TMA geotechnical staff. This automation facilitates more efficient monitoring and instrument management through real-time dashboards and visualizations. The instruments used in this system include vibrating wire piezometers, standpipe piezometers, magnetic extensometers, and others.

A recently installed tailings elevation system also now enables dam engineers to manage spigot locations and statuses efficiently, import and quality-check survey data, and visualize elevation trends in various ways. In addition, the TMA team now uses custom, mobile survey forms developed by the GIS team to document the dam on a regular basis.