Tailings and Mine Waste Conference

Assessing the effects of polymer treatment : segregation considerations Reid, David; Utting, Lewis; Fourie, Andy


Observations and field investigations of tailings behaviour following implementation of polymer treatment (PT) at the point of discharge have frequently indicated increased rates of initial dewatering, reduced segregation, and increased rates of consolidation. Despite the increasing evidence and published test programs on the effects of PT, limitations to assessing the potential benefits of this technology remain. In particular, consolidation test programs typically utilise a non-segregated untreated sample, to enable “direct” comparison to other tests on PT specimens. For a slurry that, in an untreated state, would segregate along the tailings beach, comparison of a PT specimen to an untreated, non-segregated sample does not provide a realistic simulation of field behaviour. To attempt to address the effects of segregation within a laboratory test program, a series of tests were undertaken on untreated slurry intentionally segregated, to produce a two gradations that would likely be relevant across a real tailings beach. These results were then used as inputs to a series of one dimensional consolidation models representing. Comparison of this analysis to those undertaken for PT, and untreated “non-segregated” slurry indicates that inclusion of the effects of segregation may improve the assessment of the potential benefits of PT for increase in situ density of a tailings deposit.

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