Soil-specific cone penetration test interpretation framework for tailings

Renseignements sur le financement
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Type de subvention: Programme de subventions d'engagement partenariat
  • Année: 2016/17
  • Financement total: $25,000
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Sommaire du projet

Tailings dams are massive man-made earth structures used for disposing large quantities of mining byproducts, known as tailings.A great majority of the rock crushed for ore extraction do not contain sufficient amounts of desired minerals. These silt-and-sandsizedmaterials are mixed with water and deposited behind small compacted embankments. In many cases, over time tailings andcompacted embankments are built on top of each other to form massive structures known as tailings dams. Like all otherembankments, tailings dams are susceptible to failures as their height and slope increases, or under extreme events such asearthquakes. Tailings dams failures release massive amounts of water and tailings that can cause loss of life and property andirreparable environmental damage (e.g. Mount Polley disaster, BC). To ensure safe and sustainable mining operations, tailingsdams are continuously evaluated by Geotechnical engineers. These evaluations include assessing the strength of tailings againstearthquakes using empirical methods that are developed for natural soils deposited by rivers and oceans. The fundamentaldifferences between tailings and natural soils make the application of existing empirical methods questionable. The proposedcollaborative research will develop a method for assessing earthquake resistance of tailings with different particle sizes using aseries of laboratory tests and numerical models. The partner company will gain a competitive advantage in having tailings-specificengineering methods that ensure more economical and safer designs. These methods will save mining companies millions ofdollars in tailings disposal costs, increase the safety of Canadians living near tailings and protect their environment.