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vol.112 issue11Perceived and realized benefits of paste and thickened tailings for surface depositionImportant considerations in the testing of high-density tailings for beach profile prediction author indexsubject indexarticles search
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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 2225-6253


JEWELL, R.J.. Putting beach slope prediction into perspective. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2012, vol.112, n.11, pp.927-932. ISSN 2411-9717.

The storage capacity of any given tailings storage facility (TSF) is a function of the volume available for the tailings, for which the geometry of the final upper surface of the tailings is most important. One of the advantages that can be obtained from thickening tailings prior to discharge is that the tailings can be stacked at a steeper beach angle than is obtainable with conventional low-density slurries. However, there is at present no universally accepted method available for the accurate prediction of tailings beach slopes. This paper examines the current situation with the objective of putting the quest for a method for the accurate prediction of beach slopes into perspective. The paper references published reviews of the best-known beach slope prediction methods. However, there do not appear to be any independently verified projects or published references to projects on which a Class A prediction has been validated for any of these approaches, and in those instances where projects have been implemented correlation of actual with predicted slopes has been poor - often due to differences between the properties of the tailings assumed in the design and those actually achieved in the field. The author also concludes that flume-scale testing cannot be taken as a reliable indicator of full-scale performance, and suggests that the outcome of any current predictive method should be used by experienced practitioners as only one of a range of indicators in order to suggest a range of slope angles likely to result for any given operation. Practice has shown that it is possible to manipulate beach slopes by changes to the disposal technique, such as limiting the rate of discharge per discharge point and by increasing or decreasing yield stress, but the impact of these changes cannot readily be predicted. There are also newly emerging technologies, such as the injection of a polymer into the tailings at discharge, that will enhance the dewatering of tailings and hence expedite the consolidation of the tailings, that could well facilitate the development of steeper beach slopes. The overall conclusion is that with the current state of knowledge, the accurate prediction of beach slopes is not possible. Furthermore, in view of the inherent variability of the tailings parameters from any operation, it may well be of more value to concentrate on developing an understanding of the means by which the tailings parameters may be manipulated by the operators to achieve a given beach slope than to concentrate wholly on developing a generic beach slope prediction model.

Keywords : tailings; TSF; beach slope prediction..

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