Investigation of the liquefaction potential for variably unsaturated tailings

As base and precious metals and natural resources for energy are extracted, mining operators construct tailings dams above ground to hold the liquid or “slurried” waste generated from mining activities. Several high-profile dam failures, including Mount Polley in Canada, highlight the potential risks of tailings dams to human life and the environment. The proposed research is a concentrated effort to develop a practical tool to measure saturation of tailings in situ and to understand the field and lab performance of partly saturated tailings regarding cyclic and static liquefaction. The development of a constitutive model coupling mechanical and flow behaviours of unsaturated waste will generate a quantum leap in the industry practices towards mine waste management, dam safety and the protection of public and environment.

Feixia (Cherry) Zhang
Faculty Supervisor: 
Ward Wilson
Partner University: