Characteristics and Location

The industrial tailings pond Bielatal (IAA Bielatal) was built as a result of tin ore mining in the Altenberg area. It is located in the valley of the Kleine Biela at an altitude of approx. 630 m above sea level and represents one of the largest tailings piles for mining sludges in the Ore Mountains. Construction of the Bielatal IAA began in 1967. Residues of the ore processing of the tin ore mining of Altenberg were flushed in from 1970 - 1991. On 31.03.1991 the plant was shut down. During the operating period, a total of 10,456,000 m3 of material was flushed in here. The area of the IAA, including the dams, is about 0.5 km2. The mineralogical composition of the injected material is as follows: Quartz (50-55%), mica (20-30%), topaz (8-15%), feldspars (5-7%), and hematite (5%) and clay minerals (2%). The processing residues still contain potential useful components such as Sn (about 0.2 %), Li (about 0.1 %), Fe (4-7 %) (Weinhold, 2002). In the 2000s, the IAA Bielatal was secured and finalized by the owner LMBV.



History of mining activity in Altenberg

The Altenberg deposit is one of the most important tin deposits in Europe. The beginning of mining dates back to the 15th century. The mineral mined is cassiterite (SnO2). Thanks to its high density (6.8-7 g/cm3), this can be easily extracted from the crushed ore by gravitation. The fine crushing of the ore was initially done manually, later by means of wet punching mills and in modern times with various mills. Initially, slurry trenches and later various troughs and hearths were used for enrichment. From 1934, a wet mechanical-flotation process was used, which reduced tin losses in the beneficiation process. After the political and economic changes in 1989-1990, mining activities in Altenberg had to be stopped due to lack of profitability. In the period from 1446 to 1991, 31.6 million tons of ore were extracted. The mining period from 1947 to 1991 was the most significant, with a total crude ore throughput of 20.6 million t and a production of 38,694 t of tin in concentrate (Weinhold, 2002). This corresponds to a recovered metal content of about 1.9 kg Sn/t ore. The rather high Sn content in the tailings of about 0.2% shows that the recovery was lower than 50%.


Projects and activities at the Bielatal Tailing

Projects and activities at the Bielatal Tailing

  • The final tailings disposal of the IAA took place under the management of the former GVV and now LMBV until 2014.
  • Project recomine:,,Technologies for the Extraction and Processing of Lithium Mica from Flush Dumps in the Ore Mountains (TEVLiS) using the Example of the Industrial tailings pond (IAA) Bielatal", 2022 - 2025. Project coordinator: Beak Consultants GmbH.

References (in German)

References (in German)

Weinhold, G. (2002): Die Zinnerz-Lagerstätte Altenberg/Osterzgebirge, mining monograph, Bergbau in Sachsen vol. 9; ed: LFUG and Oberbergamt, Freiberg.

LMBV Corporate Communications, (2014): LMBV konkret, 19th volume, issue 5, November 2014.


Beak Consultunts GmbH

Nailia Rizatdinova 

+49 3731 781354

Objects of Investigation

  • Separability and recoverability of useful components (Sn carriers, Li carriers, silicate materials) from the reprocessing residues
  • Manufacturability of commercial products
  • Conceptual investigation on the degradability of the plant with simultaneous recovery of potential useful components
  • Storability of the residues and pollutants
  • Rough cost-benefit analysis

The results of the investigation will also be useful in the following areas of knowledge:

  • Usability of the ingredients of similar mining residues
  • More complete utilization of the contents of primary deposits of the metals Sn, Li, Nb, Ta, W 
  • Reprocessability of arrears of the metals Sn and Li
  • Safe custody of pollutants from mining wastes






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