Utilization of gold mill tailings as a secondary resource in the production of a high strength total tailings paste fill

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 90, No. 1012, 1997

L.M. Amaratunga, G.G. Hein, and D.N. Yaschyshyn Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario

Fine tailings produced in the milling process have traditionally been disposed of in tailings ponds. Attempts have been made to use these fine tailings in backfill, however, to date the majority of backfill operations have utilized only a small percentage of fines. The remaining fines are, therefore, being sent to tailings ponds creating a waste disposal and environmental problem. This disposal practice is even more acute in the gold milling industry where fine grinding, required for value liberation, results in the production of large quantities of fine tailings, of which a large percentage cannot be used in backfill. Through Cold-Bond Tailings Agglomeration (CBTA), these fine tailings can be agglomerated into pellets which can then be used as a coarse aggregate in backfill. This paper presents the results of using these pellets to create an Agglomerated Tailings Paste Fill (ATPF) made entirely of fine gold mill tailings and cementing binders. Through this process, supplementary imported aggregates such as sand, gravel, rock-chips are not required while still maintaining adequate backfill strength. By using this CBTA technology, fine tailings are diverted from tailings ponds and becomes utilized as a value added resource in the form of aggregates for use in paste fill.