A mathematical model to predict the shape of thickened tailings
Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia
Coauthors: I.A. Frigaard & N.J. Balmforth
Surface deposition of mine tailings with high water content entails not only the risk of catastrophic failure and environmental damage but is also waste of water resources. Therefore, thickened tailings deposition is a fast growing technology in both the mining and oil sands industries. Prediction of the tailings profile is essential in calculating the storage capacity and designing the thickening process. However, this prediction is a challenging problem due to complex rheology of thickened tailings and the role of a wide range of mechanisms such as sedimentation, consolidation, desiccation (evaporation), etc. Existing models poorly predict the shape of tailings disposal.
We present preliminary results of a mathematical model to predict the shape of thickened tailings. Thickened tailings are modelled as a viscoplastic fluid containing coarser solid particles. The system of fluid and solid particles is modelled as a single phase using a mixture model with Herschel-Bulkley constitutive law, but modified to include the effect of solid volume fraction on viscosity and yield stress. A thin-layer theory is developed to explore the effects of sedimentation, consolidation and yield stress on the spreading dynamics of the thickened tailings.
Date received: March 13, 2012
Copyright © 2012 by the author(s). The author(s) of this work and the organizers of the conference have granted their consent to include this abstract in Topology Atlas. Document # cben-42.