The Geotechnical Society of Edmonton is pleased to present Dr. Nicholas Beier, University of Alberta

Date: November 30, 2023
Time: 5:30 – 8:30pm
Location: The Blue Chair, 9624 76 Avenue Northwest, Edmonton
Cost: GSE/CGS Members $30, Students $15, Non-members $40

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Registration @ 5:30 PM; Dinner @ 6:00 PM; Presentation @ 7:00PM with socializing to follow.


Mining industries in Canada and abroad have shareholder, regulator, and community obligations to ensure the successful closure of their mine waste structures, including tailings storage facilities (TSF). In Alberta, TSFs should be transformed into post-mining landforms that are maintenance free with equivalent land capability to pre-mining conditions, in line with accepted sustainability principles. Therefore, the design, construction, and operation of TSFs should incorporate closure and post-closure considerations at all stages of the TSF lifecycle to achieve the desired closure goals. Designing with closure in mind implies that the long-term geotechnical behaviour and performance of the tailings deposits and their embankments are understood and incorporated into the facility design, ideally from its conception through to closure. Challenges may arise with limited information available at the early stages of TSF design and with uncertainty around how these structures will perform over long periods of time.

The Colloquium will discuss methodologies to inform closure design, improve long-term performance, and assess long-term risk as TSFs transition into closure landforms. The integration of closure considerations into mining and waste management plans will be demonstrated with examples of numerical simulation approaches. Novel approaches to characterize and subsequently evaluate the geotechnical performance of treated tailings for their impact on successful TSF closure will also be presented. To close the knowledge gap surrounding the decommissioning of tailings dams, a Generalized Failure Modes Effects Analysis (G-FMEA) framework and case study will be presented, which provides a methodology for assessing the long-term risks associated with tailings dams. To support risk management decisions, examples of numerical modeling approaches for seepage analyses and landscape evolution modeling for geomorphic stability will demonstrate how uncertainty in long-term behaviour could be reduced.


Dr. Nicholas Beier is an Associate Professor of Geoenvironmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta. His research interests include freeze-thaw dynamics of mining wastes, frozen ground engineering, waste management in cold regions, modeling and characterizing the engineering behavior of oil sand tailings, tailings dewatering technology development and simulation modeling for evaluation of mine waste management technologies. He also conducts research into the long-term management and closure of mine waste structures.

He is the Principal Investigator of the Oil Sands Tailings Research Facility, a co-Principal Investigator of the NSERC Strategic Network (TERRE NET) and a Theme Leader in Phase III of the NSERC/COSIA Industrial Research Chair in Oil Sands Tailings Geotechnique. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Beier amassed over 15 years of industrial engineering experience, including acting as a Technical Advisor for Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA).