A study of the hydrogeotechnical behavior of in-pit tailings and their interaction with the contact structures
Wastes produced by mines include tailings and waste rock. Tailings are crushed rock produced by mineral extraction and are typically disposed as slurry. Waste rock is coarse material excavated to create mine openings that have no economic value. These wastes are often stored on the surface in tailings impoundments or waste rock piles and they pose important environmental and geotechnical risks. Backfilling the openings of underground mines with treated wastes has become a common practice. The disposal of wastes in open pits is less common, yet is a promising approach for integrated mine wastes management. Very little research has been conducted on the behavior of tailings disposed of in-pit and on their interaction with contact structures. In-pit disposal of mine wastes is underway at the partners site, Doyon-Westwood Mine. This is an opportunity to study important aspects of in-pit disposal that will lead to improvements in the method and an understanding of its effects on the environment. For example, waste rock could be placed in the pits as inclusions that would improve drainage and stability. Where the pit lays above underground mine openings the effects of in-pit disposal on the stability of these openings should also be evaluated.