Optimization of the paste backfill plant at Louvicourt mine

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 96, No. 1075, 2003

J. Cayouette

In 1995, Louvicourt mine started one of the first paste backfill operations in Canada. From 500 000 t in 1995, the annual paste backfill tonnage produced reached 800 000 t in 1999. The maximum throughput of the surface plant (including binders) is 3500 tpd with a final density of 75% to 76% solids which gives a slump of 15 cm to 17 cm. Following the start-up of the paste backfill plant, the backfill strength performance levels were well below the pilot plant’s predictions. The introduction of ferrous slag, laboratory tests on various binder ratios with or without additives, and the desliming of the tailings enabled us to optimize the mix and operation costs. Primary and secondary stopes are filled respectively with a paste containing 4.5% and 2% binders in a mixture of 20% cement to 80% ferrous slag. In certain stopes, the binder ratio may vary from 2% to 7%, but always in a ratio of 80/20. Six years after start-up, or 4.5 Mt of paste backfill later, this paper discusses the present operation and the major changes that have occurred over the years to optimize both the operation and the paste fill quality.