Excess pore water pressure induced during tailings run-out

Stability of tailings dams and tailings run-out

Marcelo Llano-Serna

The University of Queensland

Tailings dam failures continue to happen worldwide at an unacceptable rate, averaging two events annually over the last 100 years. Furthermore, tailings dams continue to grow in size, increasing the potential release of tailings and water should they fail. Tailings are generally deposited in a slurry state; with the potential to flow if the containment is lost. Understanding the generation and propagation of excess pore water pressure on failure is critical predicting the flow and run-out of tailings. This paper presents numerical modelling using the material point method indicating that tailings run-out processes may be self-enhanced by the excess pore water pressure induced during the collapse of the containment. Moreover, it is shown that geomorphological features such as the slope and its surface roughness downstream of the tailings dam influence the pore water pressure dynamics upstream of the advancing toe.

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