A physical modeling study of sloping mine tailings
Tailings are mining waste that commonly requires a large area for storage. Mine waste is often used to construct tailing dams and depending on materials/construction methods utilized, failures have occurred, resulting in extensive flooding and other damage. In this study, tailings from a planned copper-gold mining project were obtained from the metallurgical pilot plant. The tailings were of low plasticity with approximate 60% fine grained material. The tailings management plan considers that the tailings will be thickened and deposited on a beach sloping down to the containment structure. Thickened tailings are defined as tailings that have been dewatered to a point where the material has a critical flow velocity, but particles do not segregate along the flow path. Thickened tailings can be deposited to form a gentle slope (between 2% and 6%).
This research comprises a series of centrifuge modeling tests on thickened tailings. The objectives of the centrifuge tests are to better understanding the consolidation behavior during the tailings deposition and to evaluate cyclic and post-cyclic response of tailings deposited in a mild slope under large earthquake excitation. Particularly, the goal is to estimate stability of the tailings stack deposited at the pumping water content with a 4% slope before, during, and after earthquake loading. New technology and method of model preparation will be developed to characterize soil properties in the centrifuge model.