Authors: Martin, V; Aubertin, M; Benzaazoua, M; Zhan, G


Cite As:
Martin, V, Aubertin, M, Benzaazoua, M & Zhan, G 2010, 'Investigation of near-surface exchange processes in reactive paste tailings', in R Jewell & AB Fourie (eds), Paste 2010: Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 265-278,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

The use of paste tailings is considered as a potentially advantageous alternative to conventional slurry tailings disposal, especially in areas where water resources are scarce. In order to assess the response of a paste tailings storage facility, one needs to analyse the near-surface moisture fluxes in the exposed tailings due to evaporation and drainage. In the case of sulphide bearing materials with an acid mine drainage (AMD) generating potential, it is important to evaluate the impact of desaturation that may lead to tailings weathering, i.e. oxidation. A key factor influencing production of AMD is the distribution of the pore water within the tailings. This paper presents sample results from laboratory testing and numerical simulations that are being conducted to evaluate pore water movements in surface paste tailings. The study focuses primarily on columns tests made with paste tailings from Barrick Gold’s Bulyanhulu Mine (Tanzania, Africa). These tests have been used to assess the evolution of paste tailings behaviour and their reactivity at the laboratory scale, with the help of numerical simulations. The oxidation rate is also investigated for different situations pertaining to the column tests results. The numerical simulations presented are a one-dimensional simplification of the tailings storage facility of Bulyanhulu Mine, and evaluate the impact of evaporation on the water balance of paste tailings deposited on surface. The main observations indicate that the oxidation of exposed reactive tailings is influenced by their degree of saturation and the evaporation plays an important role in the water balance of paste tailings exposed to near surface conditions.

Aachib, M., Mbonimpa, M. and Aubertin, M. (2004) Measurement and prediction of the oxygen diffusion coefficient in
unsaturated media, with applications to sil covers, Water, Air and Soil Pollution, Vol. 156, pp. 163–193.
Aubertin, M., Bussière, B. and Chapuis, R.P. (1996) Hydraulic Conductivity of Homogenized Tailings from Hard Rock
Mines, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Vol. 33, pp. 470–482.
Aubertin, M., Aachib, M. and Authier, K. (2000) Evaluation of Diffusive Gas Flux through Covers with a GCL,
Geotextile and Geomembranes, Vol. 18, pp. 1–19.
Aubertin, M., Bussière, B. and Bernier, L. (2002) Environnement et gestion des rejets miniers, Les Presses
Internationales de Polytechnique.
Aubertin, M., Mbonimpa, M., Bussière, B. and Chapuis, R.P. (2003) A Model to Predict the Water Retention Curve
from Basic Geotechnical Properties, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Vol. 40, pp. 1104–1122.
Benzaazoua, M., Perez, P., Belem, T. and Fall, M. (2004) A Laboratory Study of the Behaviour of Surface Paste
Disposal, Minefill 2004 – The 8th International Symposium of Mining with Backfill, The Nonferrous Metals
Society of China, pp. 180–192.
Blight, G.E. (2003) Quantified Comparisons of Disposal of Thickened and Unthickened Tailings, Tailings and Mine
Waste ’03, A.A. Balkema Publishers, pp. 63–71.
Bussière, B., Dagenais, A-M., Mbonimpa, M. and Aubertin, M. (2002) Modification of Oxygen-Consumption Testing
for the Evaluation of Oxygen Barrier Performance, Canadian Geotechnical Society, pp. 139–146.
Bussière, B. (2007) Colloquium 2004: Hydro-Geotechnical Properties of Hard Rock Tailings from Metal Mines and
Emerging Geo-Environmental Disposal Approaches, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Vol. 44, pp. 1019–1052.
Crowder, J.J. (2004) Deposition, consolidation, and strength of a non-plastic tailings paste for surface disposal, Ph.D.
Thesis in Civil Engineering, University of Toronto, 162 p.
Dagenais, A-M. (2005) Techniques de contrôle du drainage minier acide basées sur les effets capillaires, Ph.D. Thesis
in Mineral Engineering, École Polytechnique de Montréal, 394 p.
Deschamps, T. (2009) Study of the physical and hydrogeochemical behaviour of surface paste disposal, Ph.D. Thesis in
Environmental Sciences, Université du Québec, 315 p.
Elberling, B., Nicholson, R.V., Reardon, E.J. and Tibble, P. (1994) Evaluation of Sulphide Oxidation Rates: A
Laboratory Study Comparing Oxygen Fluxes and Rates of Oxidation Product Release, Canadian Geotechnical
Journal, Vol. 31, pp. 375–383.
Fredlund, D.G. and Rahardjo, H. (1993) Soil mechanics for unsaturated soils, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 517 p.
Golder Associates Ltd (1997) Geotechnical Assessment, Tailings Management Facility, Bulyanhulu Mining Project,
Kahama District, Tanzania, 27 p., (plus appendices).
Gosselin, M. (2007) Étude de l'influence des caractéristiques hydrogéochimiques des résidus miniers réactifs sur la
diffusion et la consommation de l'oxygène, M.Sc.A. Thesis in Mineral Engineering, École Polytechnique de
Montréal, 215 p.
Gosselin, M., Aubertin, M. and Mbonimpa, M. (2007) Évaluation de l’effet du degré de saturation sur la diffusion et la
consommation d’oxygène dans des résidus miniers sulfureux, Canadian Geotechnical Society, pp. 1431–1438.
Jewell, R.J., Fourie, A.B. and Lord, E.R. (2002) In Paste and Thickened Tailings – A Guide, R.J. Jewell, A.B. Fourie
and E.R. Lord (eds), Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, Australia, 173 p.
Kilborn-SNC Lavallin (Kilborn) (1998) Bulyanhulu Feasibility Study, Volume I – Sections 2, 8, 9.
Kleinmann, R.L.P., Crerar, D.A. and Pacelli, R.R. (1981) Biogeochemistry of Acid Mine Drainage and a Method to
Control Acid Formation, Mining Engineering, Vol. 33, pp. 300–305.
Li, M., Bernier, L. and Boucher, J-F. (2002) Rheology of Mineral Pastes and its Implications on Underground Pipeline
Delivery, Symposium 2002 on Environment and Mines, Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and
Investigation of near-surface exchange processes in reactive paste tailings V. Martin et al.
278 Paste 2010, Toronto, Canada
Martin, V., McMullen, J. and Aubertin, M. (2005) Les résidus en pâte et la déposition en surface des rejets de
concentrateur, Symposium 2005 on mines and the environment, Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and
Martin, V., Aubertin, M. and McMullen, J. (2006a) Surface Disposal of Paste Tailings, 5th International Congress on
Environmental Geotechnics, International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, pp. 26–30.
Martin, V., Aubertin, M., Bussière, B., Mbonimpa, M., Dagenais, A-M. and Gosselin, M. (2006b) Measurement of
Oxygen Consumption and Diffusion in Exposed and Covered Reactive Mine Tailings, 7th International
Conference on Acid Rock Drainage, Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration.
Martin, V. (2010) Evolution of the hydrogeotechnical properties of paste tailings deposited on surface, Ph.D. Thesis in
Mineral Engineering, École Polytechnique de Montréal, unpublished.
Mbonimpa, M. and Aubertin, M. (2003) Mouvement des gaz en milieux poreux partiellement saturés, Éditions de
l’École Polytechnique, 45 p.
Mbonimpa, M., Aubertin, M., Chapuis, R.P. and Bussière, B. (2002) Practical Pedotransfer Functions for Estimating the
Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity, Geotechnical and Geological Engineering, Vol. 20, pp. 235–259.
Miyazaki, T. (2006) Water flow in soils, 2nd edition, Taylor and Francis, 418 p.
Nicholson, R.V., Gillham, R.W., Cherry, J.A. and Reardon, E.J. (1989) Reduction of Acid Generation in Mine Tailings
Through the Use of Moisture-Retaining Cover Layers as Oxygen Barriers, Canadian Geotechnical Journal,
Vol. 26, pp. 1–8.
Ouangrawa, M., Molson, J., Aubertin, M., Bussière, B. and Zagury, G.J. (2006) The Effect of Water Table Elevation on
Acid Mine Drainage from Reactive Tailings: A Laboratory and Numerical Modelling Study, 7th International
Conference on Acid Rock Drainage, Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, pp. 1473–1482.
Ouangrawa, M., Molson, J., Aubertin, M., Bussière, B. and Zagury, G.J. (2009) Reactive Transport Modelling of Mine
Tailings Columns with Capillarity-Induced High Water Saturation for Preventing Sulphide Oxidation, Applied
Geochemistry, Vol. 24, pp. 1312–1323.
Robinsky, E.I. (1999) Thickened tailings disposal in the mining industry, Robinsky Associates Ltd., 210 p.
Rowe, R.K., Booker, J.R. and Fraser, M.J. (1998) POLLUTE v6 and POLLUTE-GUI User’s Guide, GAEA
Environmental Engineering Ltd., 305 p.
Saleh-Mbemba, F., Aubertin, M. and Li, L. (2010) A New Testing Procedure to Assess Shrinkage of Paste Tailings,
Paste 2010, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, Australia (in press).
Sofra, F. and Boger, D.V. (2002) Environmental Rheology for Waste Minimisation in the Minerals Industry, Chemical
Engineering Journal, Vol. 86, pp. 319–330.
Steffen, Robertson and Kirsten (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd (SRK) (2002) Kahama Mining Corporation Limited, Tanzania,
Reclamation and Closure Plan for the Bulyanhulu Mine, 66 p. (plus appendices).
Van Genuchten, M.T. (1980) A Closed-Form Equation for Predicting the Hydraulic Conductivity of Unsaturated Soils,
Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 44, pp. 892–898.
Vick, S.G. (1983) Planning, Design, and Analysis of Tailings Dams, John Wiley & Sons, 369 p.
WEGS Consultants (WEGS) (2002) Hydrogeological Review and Assessment of Groundwater Monitoring and
Contamination Risk at Bulyanhulu Gold Mine, 19 p. (plus appendices).
Wilson, G.W., Fredlund, D.G. and Barbour, S.L. (1997) The Effect of Soil Suction on Evaporative Fluxes from Soil
Surfaces, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Vol. 34, pp. 145–155.

© Copyright 2024, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to