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Complex Ore Tailing Pits in Kyrgyzstan


Research of Complex Ore Tailing Pits in Territory of the Kyrgyz Republic with the Purpose of Their Recycling

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-RWT/Radioactive Waste Treatment/Environment
  • ENV-WDS/Waste Disposal/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
National Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyzstan / Institute of Automatics, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek


  • US Environmental Protection Agency, USA, DC, Washington\nLawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA, CA, Livermore

Project summary

Goal of the Project is the development of the cadastre of polymetallic tailing repositories located on the Kyrgyz Republic territory with the purpose of determination of the perspective tailing repositories for the recycling of their polymetallic ores. The Project also provides the investigation of tailing repositories with the purpose of developing the recommendations on their conservation and recultivation for the prevention of radioactive and toxic pollution hazard.

Introduction. During mining the entrails and extraction of minerals on the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic (KR) some millions tons of old ores dumps and tails from concentrating mills have been accumulated on the Kyrgyz Republic territory. In this connection there appeared the need to systematize these data and carry out additional research. The content of metals with commercial value in these dumps reaches the content of metals in industrial ores for modern extraction. At the same time, these tailing repositories and dumps occupy large areas of fertile lands, which is especially important for Kyrgyzstan. Even abandoned tailing repositories at the end of the production cycle often became a source of excessive formation of a dust saturated with toxic or heavy metals. Weathering and oxidation of minerals cause the migration of heavy metals and their compounds, and result in pollution of river basins and neighbouring lakes.

According to the Ministry of Environment and Emergencies, there are 35 tailing repositories with the waste products of non-ferrous metals and waste products of uranium production on the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Separate dams of tailing repositories, according to the recent information, are in critical condition. Avalanches, landslides and high waters could affect the tailing repository and cause their destruction, flooding of adjoining territories and emission of tails into rivers and neighbouring countries.

Many tailing repositories are located very close to settlements. Small particles are blown by wind out of their surface and as a result of this the inhabited territories are contaminated by lead-zinc dust. Rather frequently these sands are used by local people as a material for construction works.

As a result of this, the radioactive pollution of vast territories of the Kyrgyz Republic and neighbouring countries is taking place. The following oblasts (regions) of the KR are the most affected by these influences: Issykkul basin, Chui and Fergana valleys. In some anomalous locations the gamma-radiation rate reaches up to 150-1000 mcr/h.

For example, laboratory researches of water samples from Sumsar river below the tailing repositories show the excessive content of fluorine by 2 times, zinc by 1.3 times, manganese by 9 times and cadmium by 320 times.

As the available data on tailing repositories of the KR are not complete and not systematized, there appears the essential necessity to conduct researches and perform the urgent measures on changing the existing unfavourable environmental situation.

Previous experience. The Project is based on long-term experience of specialists of the Institute, which was accumulated in the process of work at the concentrating mills of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Ukraine. The scientific publications of Project executors on the improvement of technological processes of ores processing and enrichment, inventions and “know-how” of former “weapon” scientists, as well as their experience in the development of automation techniques, allow to judge of the potential possibility of the successful solution of tasks set in the Project.

Scope of activities. The proposed Project is related to the applied research works. Also, at the final stage of implementation, the Project will provide recommendations on the conservation and technology of useful components extraction out of the sands of polymetallic tailing repositories, such as zinc, lead, molybdenum, tin, manganese, cadmium, some precious metals and rare earth elements, etc.

Project research will enable making a cadastre of polymetallic ores in tailing repositories of the Kyrgyz Republic to support the decision-making process on conversion and sanitation of the territories of enterprises that process polymetallic ores. During the Project implementation the main trends of physical processes development in the system “tailing repository – environment” will be examined. Also, the impact of previously not studied factors and processes on ecological situation will be investigated.

According to the conception proposed by Project executors the following areas will be examined:

Mineragraphic structure. Useful minerals in tails are, as a rule, in close inter-cross germination with themselves and non-metallic minerals.

Mineralogical structure. Tails, deposited in tailing repositories of the same factory, differ by the contents of the same metal in various sites and depths of tailing repositories.

The radiometric analysis of samples taken from tailing repositories.

Expected results. Tails contain huge resources of different metals and minerals. Their content has already approached to the content of metals in industrial ores of modern extraction. One of the main reasons for it is the fact that the concentrating mills in Kyrgyzstan worked in 30–40s of the XX century and during the II World War. Imperfect technologies of extraction and enrichment of ore, used at that time, sent lots of valuable components to the tailing repositories. Modern technological processes and equipment of concentrating mills, as well as the recommendations and technical solutions proposed by the Project participants, will allow to process the tails with high economic effect. Besides, the partial restoration of territories occupied by these hazardous tailing repositories could be carried out. Thus, the benefit from the Project implementation becomes multiple.

During the Project implementation a cadastre of polymetallic ores of tails will be created. Thus the solution of the following problems is provided:

1. Development of methods for investigation of polymetallic tailing repositories in the KR.

2. Study of samples taken from the tailing repositories in various sites and out of different depths for specifying physical-chemical and mineralogical characteristics of their sands.

3. Development of recommendations on methods for useful components extraction from sands of polymetallic ores of tailing repositories and methods of tailing repositories conservation using local binding materials.

4. Creation of computer database of polymetallic tailing repositories of the Kyrgyz Republic.

At the final stage of the Project implementation the plan of application of technologies will be developed. Identification of the companies / organizations (firms) interested in the use of a cadastre of polymetallic ores of the Kyrgyz Republic will be carried out in it. At this stage the search of partners interested in the continuation of works on the improvement of methods of useful components extraction out of sands of polymetallic tailing repositories, their processing and recycling according to modern requirements of sanitary norms will be carried out.

Realization of ISTC goal and objectives. This Project meets all ISTC requirements. It allows to reorient a team of former “weapon” scientists and engineers (10 persons – more than 70% of total man-days) to the solution of important environmental problems.

The Project implementation will give a possibility to scientists and specialists from the Kyrgyz Republic who were earlier involved in the development of weapons and their tests, to reorient their abilities to the peaceful activities and will promote the conversion processes. The work over the Project will encourage the integration of scientists from the Kyrgyz Republic into the world scientific community, will support the researches in peaceful purposes and will promote the solution of national and international technical problems on ecology and development of new techniques and technologies of polymetallic tailings recycling.

The work has a great commercial potential, as at the expense of applying of original technical solutions there will be the possibility to additionally, rather cheaply, extract valuable components (for instance, some rare-earth elements and precious metals) out of the sands of polymetallic tailing repositories.

Joint discussions of problems arising from personal meetings between collaborators and immediate participants of the Project will be carried out to estimate the opportunity and quality of the performance of formulated tasks, both from the side of former “weapon” scientists and on the part of other scientists involved in the Project.

Participation of other scientists and foreign collaborators will facilitate the further task to find the parties interested in the results achieved during the Project implementation.

Technical approach and methodology. The traditional methods of approbation, analyses and methods of computer and physical modelling will be used during the Project implementation.

The specified complex of basic works under the Project provides also the use of devices and equipment for approbation, chemical analyses, methods of electronic microscopy and X-ray refractometry. Natural researches will allow estimating the expediency of processing of concrete sands of polymetallic ores from tailing repositories. The practical recommendations and basic conditions for the development of schemes and methods of useful minerals extraction from tailings will be given.

A great experience of former “weapon” scientists and experts in the field of the development of telemetric systems, automatic control, numerous inventions and “know-how” on the development of sensors for the control of mobile objects parameters will allow creating the a number of unique devices for the realization of methods of remote samples selection from tailing repositories, posing the real hazard for the environment and human health.

Role of foreign collaborators. Research activities will provide the following:

- Information exchange between the Project executors and collaborators;
- Organization of joint symposia and workshops;
- Joint assessment and check of methods for the investigation of tailing repositories and its results;
- Discussion of the proposed schemes for additional extraction of useful minerals;
- Development of joint recommendations on conservation of recycled waste products of tailings and remediation of the system “tailing repository – environment”.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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