The breaching of containment of conventionally deposited mine tailings impoundments, and the consequent release of tailings flows with long run-outs, unfortunately remains not uncommon and often has devastating ecological and economic consequences, occasionally including the loss of human life. Rather than the breaching of containment itself, which can result from a number of causes (poor control of the phreatic surface, unrecognized dam foundation issues), the contributing factor to the severe consequences of dam breach is the low density and strength and (or) susceptibility of the tailings to liquefy or soften under loading, combined with the driving weight of the ponded water, which allows for significant run-outs (in some cases tens of kilometres) to occur. Hence the motivation for developing alternative technologies that dewater tailings before deposition to the point where reliance on containment is minimized or eliminated. In this paper, these technologies are referred to as “high-density” tailings, which includes any technology that at least produces nonsegregating tailings that will form a sloped stack when deposited, including thickened, paste, and filtered tailings. The paper explores a number of issues related to high-density tailings, including shear behaviour, dewatering behaviour, acid generation, and surface deposition rheology. The paper concludes with some discussion on what the limitations are on this technology that are holding back its wider adoption, and how these limitations might be overcome.

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Keywords Filtered, High density, Paste, Tailings, Thickened
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Journal Canadian Geotechnical Journal
Simms, P. (2017). 2013 colloquium of the Canadian geotechnical society: Geotechnical and geoenvironmental behaviour of high-density tailings. Canadian Geotechnical Journal (Vol. 54, pp. 455–468). doi:10.1139/cgj-2015-0533