Testing of Cyclone Sand Tailings at High Stresses

Over the past four decades, tailings dams have steadily increased in height with new proposed designs reaching close to 300 m. This paper describes research carried out for the pre-feasibility design of a centerline cyclone sand tailings dam for a Gold-Copper porphyry mine. Cyclone sand dams built by the centerline method require (a) sufficient shear strength and (b) free drainage in the cyclone sand. Shear strength is required for shell stability, whereas free drainage reduces liquefaction potential by lowering the phreatic surface. Behaviour of cyclone sands under high dam loads (up to 5,250 kPa) was examined in triaxial and oedometer tests to characterize material deformation, particle crushing effects, shear strength, and permeability. High shear strengths (effective stress friction angle 38º) were found despite observing net contractive behavior at higher stresses. The cyclone sand was found to crush (increase in fines) under elevated stresses, especially under shear deformations.

Busslinger, M., H. Plewes and G. Parkinson. 2013. “Testing of Cyclone Sand Tailings at High Stresses,” in: GeoMontreal, Geoscience for Sustainability, 66th Canadian Geotechnical Conference and 11th Joint CGS/IAH-CNC Groundwater Conference, September 29-October 3, 2013. Montreal: Canadian Geotechnical Society.

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