Optimisation of constant rate of loading slurry consolidometer testing of fine-grained coal tailings

Emerging technologies

Shriful Islam

The University of Queensland

Fine-grained coal tailings slurry undergo only limited settling and self-weight consolidation, and tend to remain slurry-like and unsuitable for conventional laboratory consolidation testing. In addition, constant rate of loading consolidation testing is more representative of the continuous disposal of tailings slurry into a tailings storage facility (TSF) than conventional step loading. The laboratory consolidation testing of coal tailings slurry under a constant rate of loading has been carried out in a purpose-built, large-scale, slurry consolidometer, instrumented with load cells and pore water pressure (PWP) transducers. In the slurry consolidometer, the rate of loading may be varied to represent the actual rate of rise of the tailings in the TSF. A slow rate of loading increases the test duration, while too fast a rate of loading may build up very high excess PWP, without achieving significant consolidation. For the particular fine-grained coal tailings slurry tested, the rate of loading in the slurry consolidometer is varied to access its effect on the development and dissipation of excess PWP. The resulting consolidation parameters are evaluated and explained using the recorded settlement and PWP data.

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