Conceptual Design

Muk3D is powerful conceptual design and detailed planning software for earth structures of all types.  The following case study outlines a sample workflow and tools for the conceptual design of a tailings storage facility (TSF), but the same workflow can be applied to a wide variety of structures.


When you’re considering a new TSF there are lots of unknowns to deal with and questions that need to be answered:

Muk3D provides a set of powerful tools to quickly assess the conditions and build a conceptual design that addresses the questions and unknowns.

Get site topography

Step 1

In the early phase of a feasibility study, detailed site survey data may not be available.  Using publicly available data such as SRTM and ASTER, it is possible to get good quality survey data which allows you to get some topographic data to get started with.

Pulling data into Muk3D from USGS EarthExplorer provides some initial topography:

Quickly screen locations

Step 2

Once you’ve got an idea of what sort of volumes you’re looking for, the next step is to look at potential locations and evaluate their storage capacities.

Muk3D comes with a wide range of tools to create simple earth structures quickly, and then fill them with tailings.  Using Muk3D’s dynamic models, dam elevations and geometry can be altered to quickly see the impact of dam geometry on fill volumes.  In addition, Muk3D’s dynamic modelling tools for tailings allows discharge locations/elevations and tailings properties to be varied to understand their impact on volumes.

Whether you’re considering conventional disposal or alternatives such as paste, thickened tailings, or filtered tailings, Muk3D has tools to help develop high-level models to develop conceptual layouts.

Step 3

Create options for different tailings technologies

For conventional TSF options, the size of the operating pond can have significant impact of the overall storage volumes.  Muk3D Tailings+ has a range of pond models that let you simulate different operating scenarios for a pond. You can also use the dynamic deposition models to try out different pond elevations to understand their impact on tailings storage and pond volumes.

Evaluate different pond sizes

Step 4

Evaluate different geotechnical conditions

Since the founding conditions of potential dam sites are likely unknown during early design phases, some basic sensitivity of a design to a range of geotechnical conditions can help understand the potential range of construction volumes required.

Once a dam has been created, Muk3D’s dynamic models let you try different dam geometries (slopes, crest widths) and provide immediate feedback on the fill volumes.

Step 5


Muk3D gives you the power to develop conceptual designs for a tailings storage facility quickly, providing for near real-time evaluation of different options, locations and tailings disposal technologies from a volumetric viewpoint. You can rapidly establish short or long-range tailings plans in unprecedentedly fast turnaround times, providing consultants and operators with the opportunity to explore alternatives during meetings instead of producing models that are out-of-date by the time they are finished.