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Co-Mixing of Tailings, Waste Rock and Slag to Produce Barrier Cover Systems

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  • Engineered soil covers are used for final closure options for both waste rock and tailings disposal facilities. Currently, cover construction requires excavation of appropriate cover material from a nearby site. If no suitable materials are available, the mine operation may have to ship appropriate materials long distances to the site before the construction of the cover can even begin. This has led to the proposal to engineer cover materials using existing waste materials from the mining operation. The paper presented here describes the results of a laboratory scale testing program to evaluate the potential for blending waste rock, smelter slag and tailings for the creation of a suitable cover material at a site in Canada. Tailings from the local mill, waste rock and slag were collected in the field and blended to create a material with an air entry value similar to the tailings and with physical strength similar to the waste rock. Testing indicated this mixed material could be blended at a consistency of a paste and was suitable for pumping. It can also be compacted to a high-density material. The preliminary results show that it may be possible to blend waste rock, slag and tailings into a material that can be utilised in the construction of a water retaining cover.

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