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Placement of wicks into a mine tailings deposit prior to the placement of mine tailings

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000246398D
Publication Date: 2016-Jun-03
Document File: 4 page(s) / 142K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

This method describes a means of constructing a cell for fluid tailings and enhancing the dewatering of those tailings through the use of wicks. Novel to this concept, the wicks are placed into the cell prior to the introduction of the fluid tailings. This allows the wicks to provide enhanced drainage for the tailings prior to the tailings gaining sufficient strength to support machinery for the placement of the wicks. It also reduces the costs associated with mobilizing equipment for placing the wicks, which can simply be tethered to strings or other wicks on both ends, thereby minimizing the number of control points required to effect the system.

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Page 01 of 4

Title: Placement of wicks into a mine tailings deposit prior to the placement of mine tailings

Abstract:

This method describes a means of constructing a cell for fluid tailings and enhancing the dewatering of those tailings through the use of wicks. Novel to this concept, the wicks are placed into the cell prior to the introduction of the fluid tailings. This allows the wicks to provide enhanced drainage for the tailings prior to the tailings gaining sufficient strength to support machinery for the placement of the wicks. It also reduces the costs associated with mobilizing equipment for placing the wicks, which can simply be tethered to strings or other wicks on both ends, thereby minimizing the number of control points required to effect the system.

Problem Statement: Mining operations typically require an extraction process that results in a product and a waste stream known as mine tailings. When the extraction or the mineral contains liquid, this can result in fluid tailings which must be stored in suitable enclosures. In the case of oil sands mining, these tailings form ponds in which fine particles settle over a period of several years to form a stable suspension of near 30 wt% solids in water. This suspension is known as Mature Fine Tailings (MFT). The accumulation of MFT on a massive scale has resulted in legislation in Alberta to accelerate the remediation of tailings deposits, ie. to dewater tails and ultimately allow reclamation activities upon mine closure. At present, there are several technologies to dewater tailings, but they suffer from having high costs. These costs are driven by materials handling issues as well as the requirement to set aside designated areas of the mine site for tailings dewatering activities, and the cheapest of these technologies have long dewatering times. An invention that could accelerate the dewatering MFT or fluid fine tailings in the Designated Disposal Area would enable faster reclamation.

Wicks are often discussed as a potential option for accelerating dewatering when the material to be dewatered has a low hydraulic conductivity (permeability). In these cases, a wick can increase the drainage of the material by providing a channel through which water can rapidly transfer out of the deposit. Wicks are used in soil remediation and dewatering in the construction industry. However, wick placement requires the use of specialized heavy equipment, as can be observed by googling "wick drain installation" and selecting "images." Because wicks must be placed fairly closely spaced, the cost of wick installation contributes a large portion to the price of utilizing wick drains in dewatering.


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Furthermore, wicks are not utilized prior to the material gaining at least some strength. This can be because the equipment must drive over the material in order to place the wick, or because the wick would otherwise fill up with low permeability fluid which would render the wick useless.

Anothe...