In collaboration with others, through innovative fundamental, applied research, and educational activities, advance the state-of-knowledge and practice in the design, operation, and closure of tailings and industrial waste storage facilities in the mining and power industries.
Serve as a center of excellence for fundamental and applied research related to tailings and industrial waste with the goal to promote the resilience, sustainability, and safety of the geotechnical infrastructure required in the mining and power industries.
The TAilings and IndustriaL waste ENGineering (TAILENG) Center is a consortium of faculty at four universities: Georgia Tech, Colorado State University, UC Berkeley, and the University of Illinois that seek to improve the fundamental understanding of the engineering properties of mine and industrial waste geomaterials to promote resilient and sustainable infrastructure in the mining and power industries.
The TAILENG Center was created to address the needs in characterizing tailings and industrial waste geomaterials identified in forensic studies of recent failures of major tailings storage facilities worldwide (e.g., 2014 Mount Polley failure, Canada; 2015 Fundao failure, Brazil; 2018 Cadia failure, Australia; 2019 Brumadinho failure, Brazil). Failures of tailings storage facilities have killed hundreds of people and caused unprecedented environmental consequences. For example, the Fundao failure is considered the largest environmental disaster in Brazil, and the Mount Polley failure in Canada is one of the worst disasters in modern Canadian history. In the US, the 2008 Kingston coal ash pond failure was an environmental disaster with associated losses of approximately $1.2B. The Kingston failure is a grave reminder of the severe impacts of a waste storage facility failure that can directly affect the US. These recent failures have led to international debates regarding the safety of tailings and industrial waste storage facilities and more generally on the conditions that could trigger failures of the waste facilities.
There is the opportunity to leverage lessons learned about tailings storage facilities in the mining industry with the geotechnical infrastructure employed in coal ash and fly ash facilities in the power industry. An improved understanding of the mechanical response of mine tailings under realistic field conditions and stress paths is required to promote resilient and sustainable designs. Likewise, an improved understanding of the mechanical response of coal ash and other coal combustion by-products is required in the power industry.