Segregation of tailings on deposition can occur as a result of a) sub-aqueous deposition, and b) sub-aerial deposition at lower solids concentrations (i.e. when the solids concentration is less than the segregation threshold). The effects are likely to be more pronounced in the case of subaqueous deposition.
This paper presents the results of an investigation of a sub-aqueous tailings facility.
Data from the investigation show extreme variations in particle size and density compared to test results for non-segregated ‘all-in” tailings. The results indicate that on segregation both the fine and coarse splits tend towards a well sorted (poorly graded) mix, and both have significantly lower consolidated density than the all in tailings. This result is reasonably well known for the case of the segregated fines (“slimes ponds”) but less appreciated for the coarse fraction. The results suggest that if the effects of segregation are not allowed for, the overall density of the deposit can be seriously over-estimated at the design stage. Also the quantity of water retained in the tailings can significantly influence water recovery and water balance results.
Seddon, K, 2018. Segregating tailings – effects on density and water retention, in Proceedings Mine Waste and Tailings Stewardship Conference 2018, pp 299–308 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).