Authors: Kabwe, LK; Kone, M; Sorta, A; Wilson, GW; Scott, JD; Ulrich, AC


Cite As:
Kabwe, LK, Kone, M, Sorta, A, Wilson, GW, Scott, JD & Ulrich, AC 2013, 'Measurements of unsaturated soil properties of old and new mature fine tailings', in M Tibbett, AB Fourie & C Digby (eds), Mine Closure 2013: Proceedings of the Eighth International Seminar on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Cornwall, pp. 159-170,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

The Geotechnical Centre at the University of Alberta decommissioned two research standpipes in 2012 that had been monitored for 30 years. These 10 m high standpipes were filled with mature fine tailings (MFT) collected from Syncrude’s Mildred Lake tailings pond. Samples were collected from Standpipe 1 prior to decommissioning to determine basic physical properties and unsaturated soil properties of the MFT. A summary of measured soil properties, including soil water characteristic curve (SWCC) and its associated shrinkage curve, are presented. The atmospheric drying of the MFT was compared using the original untreated MFT and three treated fine tailings: flocculated thickened tailings (TT) with 49% solids content, flocculated TT with 1% flyash and in-line flocculated (ILF) MFT with 32% solids content. Results show that the residual bitumen has an effect on the rate of evaporation of MFT with a low solids content. The free bitumen forms a film on the surface of the MFT, which decreases drying from deeper layers and reduces the actual evaporation. The results provide new insights into the atmospheric drying of MFT.

Fredlund, D.G., Stone, J. and Stianson, J. (2011) Determination of water storage and permeability functions for oil sands tailings, in Proceedings 15th International Conference on Tailings and Mine Waste, Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 6–9 November, 2011, pp. 315-328.
Jeeravipoolvarn, S., Scott, J.D. and Chalaturnyk, R.J. (2009) 10-m standpipe tests on oil sand tailings: long-term experimental results and prediction, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Vol. 46, pp. 875–888.
Wilson, G.W., Fredlund, D.G. and Babour, S.L. (1997) The effect of soil suction on evaporative fluxes from soil surfaces, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Vol. 34, pp. 145–155.
Wilson, G.W., Kabwe, L.K., Donahue, R. and Lahaie, R. (2011) Field performance of in-line flocculated fluid fine tailings using thin lift deposition, in Proceedings Sixth International Conference on Mine Closure (Mine Closure 2011), A.B. Fourie, M. Tibbett and A. Beersing (eds), 19‒21 September 2011, Lake Louise, Canada, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, Vol. 1, pp. 473−479.

© Copyright 2021, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
Please direct any queries or error reports to