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Bituminous Geomembranes (BGM), 15 years of presence in Mine construction in Latin America

BGM is manufactured by impregnating a polyester geotextile and a fiberglass layer with an elastomeric bitumen compound. The geotextile provides the mechanical resistance and the high puncture resistance (thus eliminating the need to use outside geotextiles for protection) and permits the traffic of tire-mounted equipment, during construction. The bitumen provides the waterproofing properties of the geomembrane and ensures the longevity of BGM by protecting the geotextile fibers over the long run. BGM has a higher friction angle than other types of geomembranes. This contributes to the stability of the heap leach pile and it helps reduce earthmoving costs in the construction of reservoirs for storage of solids or liquids by allowing the use of steeper slopes.
The paper describes examples of application in mining operations in Latin America where BGM was selected in lieu of the usual polymeric geomembranes, due to BGM’s high puncture resistance, its ability to be installed in very harsh weather conditions (wind, warm, cold…) and its ease of installation, ability to be deployed on a coarser subgrade and tolerance to extreme atmospheric conditions. The projects to be described are for applications in: Containment of solids and liquids: Waste rock dump for PAG rocks cap test at Antamina copper mine in Peru, a heap leach pad at Dolores silver mine in Mexico, a lithium evaporation ponds at the Atacama salar in Chile, the Barahona spoil dump at Codelco’s Teniente mine in Chile and a storage of solid waste at a niobium mine in Brazil. Capping of solid waste: Capping of sulfite waste at La Granja mine in Peru and capping of mine spoil dumps at Furioso mine in Chile. Tailings storage facilities: Tailings dams at the Cerro Lindo mine in Peru and the Cerro Negro gold mine in Argentina. We will also describe the underwater repairs of HDPE liner using BGM at the tailing’s reservoir of the Antamina mine copper mine in Peru.