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Somincor Setubal, about 140 kilometres away. Andreatidis points out that the company has not focused purely on exploration and development, but has also been considering the eventual closure and rehabilitation of the site. Tailings from the mine, which are highly pyritic and oxidise to form acidic waste when exposed to air, have so far been disposed of by the conventional method of depositing them under a one metre skin of water- in this case, in a purpose built dam close to the mine. " The idea was that the water cap isolates the tailings from oxygen, preventing them from becoming acidic and leaching into the water table. However, we felt that was not a good legacy to leave following closure! How do you maintain a water cap forever?" he asks. " We also had to find a way of extending the life of the dam, as a tailings dump, for another 20 years." To solve this problem, the company has been engaged in a 10- year research programme in partnership with Golder Associates, to adapt the Golder Paste Technology to pyritic tailings. After feasibility studies, detailed February 10 www. bus- ex. com 39