Stability of Cantung Mine Tailings under Simulated Dry Stack Conditions

Presenter:

 

Allison Surrette – a.surrette@queensu.ca

 
 

Authors:

 
A. Surrette – Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada
H.E. Jamieson – Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada
B. Kazamel – Queen’s University, Kingston, ON,
 

Summary:

Dry stack or filtered tailings is a relatively new method of tailings storage that is gaining popularity because it eliminates the need for conventional tailings dams. However, there is still uncertainty regarding the applicability to potentially acid generating tailings because of the relationship between geotechnical and geochemical stability. To limit oxidation, the water content must be high enough to ensure saturation, but higher water contents typically decrease geotechnical strength. Finding a balance is one of the critical components of dry stack storage design. The Cantung Mine, NWT, is a former tungsten mine currently under care and maintenance with approximately 6.5 Mt of impounded tailings. Static testing of tailings samples indicates that most would be described as potentially acid generating, exemplified by the currently acidic Flat River tailings, although the impounded tailings exhibit limited oxidation and pH-neutral pore waters. This project focuses on geochemical analysis of a dry stack configuration of these tailings through column experiments of tailings at different water contents, with the water content based on Standard Proctor Tests. Oxygen consumption, water content and pH will be monitored over a period of months to gain a better understanding of how these tailings will behave under unsaturated conditions.

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