Proposed features/Tailings pond

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Tailings pond
Status: Approved (active)
Proposed by: ZeLonewolf
Tagging: man_made=tailings_pond
Applies to:
Definition: A body of liquid or slurry used to store byproducts of mining operations
Statistics:

Drafted on: 2021-01-09
RFC start: 2021-01-09
Vote start: 2021-01-26
Vote end: 2021-02-09

Proposal

Tailings are the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable fraction from the uneconomic fraction of an ore. Tailings are distinct from overburden, which is the waste rock or other material that overlies an ore or mineral body and is displaced during mining without being processed. (See:  Tailing ponds)

A tailings pond, tailing pond, settling pond, or settling pit is an area in which waterborne tailings are pumped into a pond to allow the separation of solids from the water. The pond is generally impounded with a dam, and known as tailings impoundments or tailings dams.

Since the purpose of tailing ponds is to contain hazardous substances, they are not constructed like reservoirs with water intended to flow through, which often helps to recognize them. Since many tailings ponds are partially fed by streams or rainwater in addition to ore processing, they will either outflow naturally, often with a water treatment facility for environmental remediation. It is also common to construct tailings ponds without any outflow.[1][2] In some cases, a tailings pond may have unremediated outflows to streams or rivers, causing undesireable environmental damage.

Proposed are that:

Rationale

  1. The current tagging and documentation for tailing ponds (reservoir_type=tailings) is unclear as to whether they should be tagged as a reservoir or a basin. Since both reservoir and basin are intended for water, this resolves the ambiguity by categorizing tailing ponds as a non-water man-made feature.
  2. Tailing ponds are discernable in overhead imagery due to their proximity to industrial mining or quarrying operations as well as their their distinctive coloring and opacity. In addition, they are often of an obvious man-made shape. Thus, in most cases, tailing ponds are discernable from water bodies.
  3. Tailing ponds are not considered reservoirs in common usage. Storage of waste products should not be grouped with bodies of water used for traditional water storage.
  4. There is a community consensus that the contents of a tailing pond should not be considered water in the context of natural=water.

Examples

Tagging

Tailings ponds are discernable based on their colorful (polluted) appearance and lack of outflow. Many of them are surrounded by characteristic dams or berms. Tailings ponds often (but not always) take man-made shapes. Often, tailings ponds can be found near a mining or otherwise obviously industrial operation. Tailings ponds are tagged man_made=tailings_pond, and are tagged at the high water mark if the pond regularly varies in size. Ponds which vary in size should also be tagged with intermittent=yes.

A body of water formed by  excavation at a quarry or gravel pit, or from  dredging operations are not tailings ponds if they are not used to store or remediate tailings. Such bodies of water can be tagged natural=water, possibly with appropriate sub-tags. There is not currently a consensus in the community as to how quarry lakes should be tagged beyond the top-level tag natural=water.

The following table lists tagging that is useful for tagging features in and around tailings ponds:

Tag Used for
man_made=tailings_pond The tailings pond itself, at the typical high water mark.
intermittent=yes Tailings ponds, or portions of ponds, that are sometimes wet and sometimes dry.
man_made=spoil_heap Dry tailings or spoils that are not submerged in a tailings pond.
resource=* Specific materials associated with a tailings pond, spoil heap, or other resource extraction feature.
waterway=dam A dam which is holding back a tailings pond.
barrier=berm A berm which is holding back or encircling a tailings pond.
The overall land use of the site which includes the tailings pond.
hazard=contamination Indicates that the tailings pond is hazardous to human health.

A tailings pond may also have nearby incidental water areas that, while not used for storing tailings, are still contaminated through leakage or as a function of the tailings remediation process. Consider the following options for tagging these areas of contaminated water:

Applies to

area

Features/Pages affected

Page Change
man_made=* Add a new key tailings_pond for tailing ponds
man_made=tailings_pond Create this page
reservoir_type=* Mark the value reservoir_type=tailings as deprecated.
waterway=dam Indicate that dams may also be tagged in association with tailing ponds.
hazard=contamination Indicate the use of this tag on tailings ponds their incidental waters.

External discussions

The below quotes demonstrate a prevailing community opinion that the contents of tailing ponds should not be considered water:

I'm not entirely happy with natural=water being applied to either sewage treatment or slurry. Neither are natural and neither store water.
Paul Allen, (tagging)


I would not consider "slurry" to be "water", although they contain mostly water (looking at the parts) - 10% sulfuric acid is also mostly water. Milk is also mostly water, as is beer.
Martin Koppenhoefer, (tagging)


If a renderer were unprepared to give special treatment to tailing ponds, I personally think it would be better for the renderer to omit them than to render them as bodies of water.
Minh Nguyen, (tagging)

Discussion Threads

Comments

Please comment on the discussion page.

Voting

Voting closed

Voting on this proposal has been closed.

It was approved with 32 votes for, 0 votes against and 0 abstentions.

There is strong consensus for the introduction of a new tag for tailings ponds.


  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. Tailings should not be tagged as water, and toxic sludge should not be tagged as a reservoir --ZeLonewolf (talk) 04:38, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Carnildo (talk) 05:26, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. Holding my nose and voting yes on this one. – Minh Nguyễn 💬 06:19, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. In some cases natural=water lake appears by design inside tailing pond, is not incidental but it is nitpicking to the highest degree --Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 06:54, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Fizzie41 (talk) 07:04, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Adavidson (talk) 07:55, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Brian de Ford (talk) 13:13, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Adamfranco (talk) 15:01, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --AlephNull (talk) 18:47, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Phidauex (talk) 21:18, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Mar Mar (talk) 21:26, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Dr Centerline (talk) 22:33, 26 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --501ghost (talk) 01:49, 27 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --ForgottenHero (talk) 02:48, 27 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Horza (talk) 06:50, 27 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Marc marc (talk) 12:49, 27 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --GeoMechain (talk) 14:34, 27 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --SK53 (talk) A necessary distinction. Minor point, slurry in this case does not refer to farmyard slurry in my view (see [W] Slurry pit, but mining slurry. SK53 (talk) 14:30, 28 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --حبيشان (talk) 15:15, 29 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --EneaSuper (talk) 11:53, 31 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Juan Carlos G F (talk) 12:42, 31 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Pepilepioux (talk) 20:39, 31 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Ravlop (talk) 22:29, 31 January 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --JJIglesias (talk) 05:35, 1 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Riiga (talk) 08:03, 1 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Reino Baptista (talk) 10:24, 1 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Something B (talk) 13:44, 4 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --jleedev (talk) 15:03, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --V-Li (talk) 12:27, 7 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Adiatmad (talk) 05:16, 8 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Jeisenbe (talk) 00:23, 8 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --TheBlackMan (talk) 06:06, 8 February 2021 (UTC)

Footnotes

  1. Some tailings ponds may have unwanted outflow of toxic water, some may treat the water to reduce danger to surrounding
  2. though in some cases water may be at least partially used again for ore processing, see for example "W Polsce do procesu flotacji przede wszystkim używana jest woda pochodząca z odwodnienia kopalń. Jest ona wykorzystywana wielokrotnie i krąży w obiegu zamkniętym pomiędzy Zakładami Wzbogacania Rud a Obiektem Unieszkodliwiania Odpadów Wydobywczych „Żelazny Most”." where PR release of mining company mentions this reuse of water