Measurement of Hydraulic Conductivity in Oil Sand Tailings Slurries

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  • Abstract: Fine tails, the resulting fine waste from oil sand processing, undergoes large-strain consolidation in tailings ponds. Its consolidation behavior must be analyzed using a large-strain consolidation theory, which requires the determination of the relationship between the void ratio and hydraulic conductivity. Conventional measurement techniques are not suitable for fine tails, and a special slurry consolidometer, with a clamping device to prevent seepage-induced consolidation, was designed to determine the hydraulic conductivity of the fine tails and of nonsegregating fine tails - sand slurries. The hydraulic conductivity of slurries is not constant but decreases with time to a steady-state value. Hydraulic conductivity is also influenced by the hydraulic gradient and bitumen content. It is shown that a low hydraulic gradient, less than 0.2, is necessary to counteract the effect of the bitumen and to represent tailings pond conditions. The hydraulic conductivity of fine tails sand mixes is controlled by the fines void ratio, hence, fines content. The hydraulic conductivity of chemically amended nonsegregating tailings can be lower than that of fine tails. However, acid-lime or acid - fly ash amended nonsegregating tailings have similar hydraulic conductivity values in terms of fines void ratio. The hydraulic conductivity of nonsegregating tailings appears to be governed by fines content and by the nature of the fines aggregation caused by the chemical additive.

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    Article (Published)
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    © 1996 NRC Research Press (Canadian Science Publishing). This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Suthaker, N. N., & Scott, J. D. (1996). Measurement of hydraulic conductivity in oil sand tailings slurries. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 33(4), 642-653.