Optimisation of Surface Tailings Storage and Tailings Backfill – A Case Study

Selection between thickened, paste and filtered tailings disposal

Nils Steward

Weir Minerals

A revised backfill design was prepared and implemented at a gold mine in China to address issues of quality control of backfill to underground workings and accelerated filling of the surface tailings

storage facility.  The geotechnical and rheological properties of the tailings were investigated and the cause of the issues identified.  A new backfill design was prepared using a backfill material made up of tailings only and improved thickening in the plant.  Pipe loop tests were carried out on samples of the new backfill material to establish yield strength and pressure gradient parameters for delivery of backfill to the life of mine underground workings. The design also included changes to the thickening and delivery of tailings slurry to the tailings storage facility.  A new plant was constructed and has achieved the design performance criteria at a reduced operating cost. The paper presents results of the test work and the design parameters.

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