Coupled Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical-Chemical (THMC) Processes in Cemented Tailings Backfill Structures and Implications for their Engineering Design

Title: Coupled Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical-Chemical (THMC) Processes in Cemented Tailings Backfill Structures and Implications for their Engineering Design
Authors: Ghirian, Alireza
Date: 2016
Abstract: The main result of underground mining extraction is creating of large underground voids (mine stopes). These empty openings are typically backfilled with an engineering cementitious material called cemented paste backfill (CPB). The main purpose of CPB application in underground mining is to provide stability and ensure the safety of underground openings, maximize ore recovery, and also provide an environmental-friendly means of underground disposal of potential acid generating tailings. CPB is a mixture of mine tailings, cement binder and water. CPB has a complex geotechnical behaviour when poured into mine voids. This is because of the different thermal (T), hydraulic (H), mechanical (M) and chemical coupled processes and interactions that take place in CPB soon after placement. In addition to these THMC behaviours, various external factors, such as stope geometry, drainage condition and arching effects add more complexity to its behaviour. In order to acquire a full understanding of CPB behaviour, there is a need to consider all of these THMC factors and processes together. So far, there has not been any study that addresses this research need. Indeed, fundamental knowledge of the THMC behaviour of CPB provides a key means for designing safe and cost-effective backfill structures, as well as optimizing mining cycles and productivity of mines. Innovative experimental tools and CPB testing methods have been developed and adopted in this research to fulfill the objectives of this research. In the first phase of the study, experiments with high columns are developed to study the THMC behaviour of CPB from early to advanced ages with respect to height of the column and curing time. The column experiments simulate the mine stope and filling sequence and provide an opportunity to study external factors, such as evaporation, on the THMC behaviour of CPB. However, an important factor is the overburden pressure from the stress due to self-weight that cannot be simulated through column experiments. Therefore, in the second phase of this study, a novel THMC curing under stress apparatus is developed to study the THMC behaviour of CPB under various pressures due to the self-weight of the CPB, drainage conditions, and filling rate and sequence. Comprehensive instrumentation and geotechnical testing are carried out to obtain fundamental knowledge on the THMC behaviour of CPB in different curing conditions from early to advanced ages. The results of these studies show that the THMC properties of CPB are coupled. Important parameters, such as curing stress, self-desiccation due to cement hydration, temperature, pore water chemistry, and mineralogical and chemical properties of the tailings, have significant influence on the shear strength and compressive strength development of CPB. Factors such as evaporation and drying iii shrinkage can also affect the hydro-mechanical properties of CPB. The curing conditions (such as curing stress, drainage and filling rate) also has significant impact on CPB behaviour and performance. The THMC interactions and the degree of influence of each factor should be included in designing backfill structures and planning mining cycles. This innovative curing under stress technique can be replaced the conventional curing of CPB (curing under zero stress and no THMC loadings), in order to optimize CPB mechanical strength assessment, increase mine safety and enhance the productivity.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -