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Paste thickened tailings backfills have undergone a rapid evolution from their first applications in the early 1990s, and with it the industry has seen significant advances in both the technology and the equipment that is needed for the production, transport and placement of paste. In the early years, the production of paste was largely based on ‘rules of thumb’ and industry experience with conventional thickening systems hence paste performance failures were common. Nowadays, the production of paste is based on a much improved understanding of the rheology of thickened tailings, and the behaviour of non-Newtonian slurries. This paper will walk through the advances in the science of paste thickening of tailings, and the associated improvements in the equipment used for thickening, mixing, pumping and transport of these materials.
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