Development of a Tailings Management Simulation and Technology Evaluation Tool

  • Author / Creator
    Beier, Nicholas A
  • This research aims to assist in the assessment of tailings management technologies through the development of a dynamic simulation model. The developed model (TMSim) incorporates the mine plan, various stages of dewatering including classification, pre- and post-deposition dewatering, and an impoundment material balance including tailings, process water, construction material and capping materials. Through simulations of a simple metal mine operation and a complex oil sands operation, TMSim demonstrated it can evaluate technologies and mine plans and diagnose potential drawbacks and strengths. This information can then be used to strategically guide and support technology development and resource expenditure.

    During the evaluation of oil sands fine tailings technologies, it was found that the use of chemical amendments (flocculants) to augment dewatering and strength gain may present some challenges. Chemically-amended fine tailings can have low storage efficiencies and these deposits may exhibit sensitive, metastable behavior upon deposition. Additionally, flocculation of fine tailings may actually hinder the self-weight consolidation process through the development of an apparent pre-consolidation pressure.

    The TMSim modelling tool was utilized to simulate a model oil sands mine based on the Syncrude Aurora North mine utilizing composite tailings (CT) technology. Model inputs and functions were based on publicly available sources of information. Based on the mass balance agreement with the Syncrude tailings plan, the TMSim model was established to be an effective quantitative tool that can be used in the evaluation of technologies for oil sands mining operations.

    A tailings plan was compiled using a novel dewatering technology, cross flow filtration (CFF), as the core tailings technology. The CFF tailings plan was then evaluated with the TMSim model and the model oil sands mine plan. The cross flow filtration process provides an opportunity to deposit high density tailings stacks requiring minimal containment. Two thirds of the yearly process water demand can also be satisfied by immediate recycle from the CFF process resulting in lower green house gas production. Additionally, if fluid fine tailings (FFT) spiking is incorporated, existing inventories of FFT can be consumed and stored in the pore space of the CFF tailings. Supplemental material related to this thesis is available at .

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.