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The use of chemical admixtures in mining backfill operations is not new historically but the widespread use of chemical admixtures in the backfill industry is still relatively uncommon. The successful use of admixtures in various projects globally is not well documented or known, and this knowledge is basically confined to a very small specific group. These successful references have not facilitated the introduction of admixtures in backfill plants on a regular basis. Various reasons for not using admixtures as an integral part of backfill systems and operations are often related to additional material costs rather than considering the total benefits to the mine, not just the backfill operations. BASF (previously known as Master Builders) showed in the early 1990s that certain properties of the fill can be significantly improved by the use of chemical admixtures. What was not followed or expanded upon were the benefits to the mine of the backfill mix design in terms of rheology, strength increase, reduced pipeline pressures and potential binder savings. At that time, often the instrumentation and monitoring of backfill was relatively unsophisticated and hence improvements were hard to quantify. With the use of modern transducers, sensors, flow meters etc., key parameters are much easier to quantify, and hence show the potential greater benefits of admixtures in backfill mixes to the total mining system. The paper sets out to show the benefits from the use of chemical admixtures in backfill mixes, and through case histories and measurements, quantify the real improvements both physical and financial for the backfill industry. It will also show how a backfill admixture can be a useful tool to improve various parameters of the fill. The authors’ aim in this paper is to hopefully show a creative method and approach to using admixtures in a backfill system rather than to simply discuss the results of a particular admixture application.
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