Tailings Consolidation


Mine tailings from various types of mining operations are often deposited on the area surrounding the mine site in the form of a slurry. The solids settle out over time and a tailings pile may have a number of lifts corresponding to deposition over different time intervals. The rate of drain-down of the wet tailings pile is of interest for understanding the mine site hydrology and stability of the tailings pile.


Numerical modeling of mine tailings can provide value in a number of specific areas: 1) Understanding the rate of discharge of contaminated water out of the tailings, and, 2) obtaining the pore-water pressure conditions at different deposition stages to aid in stability analysis, and, 3) estimation of long-term groundwater conditions. Problems are commonly encountered in numerical models of mine tailings due to the following reasons:

  • Mine tailings typically have irregular 3D geometry.
  • Mine tailings are often deposited in different lifts at different stages of the mine life requiring proper specification of initial conditions and staged models.
  • Mine tailings deposited as a slurry become unsaturated over time and therefore require a numerical model capable of handling the particular nonlinearities associated with unsaturated seepage modeling.

Figure 1: Pseudo 3-D example numerical model solving tailings deposition

SVFlux™ has been successfully applied to mine tailings drain-down applications and proven itself capable of matching results obtained in the field. Specifically, the following features make SVFlux the premier tool for evaluating mine tailings drain-down operation.

SoilVision Systems Ltd. also provides solutions for the large-strain numerical modeling of the consolidation process. Current state of practice typically involves running a 1-D numerical model and assuming that it reasonably represents the tailings long term behaviour in 2-D and 3D. Research has shown that this is not necessarily the case. SVS developmental software provides the solution of fully coupled large-strain multi-dimensional solutions. Such an approach is consistent with historical stress-deformation formulations and is theoretically defensible. Click here to contact us about such a solution.

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