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Optimised seasonal deposition for successful management of treated mature fine tailings

Paper from the Proceedings of the 17th International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings, held in Vancouver, Canada, June 8-12, 2014. (downloadable PDF).

J. Caldwell, Robertson GeoConsultants, Canada; A. Revington, Suncor Energy Inc., Canada; G. McPhail, SLR Consulting Australia Pty Ltd, Australia; L. Charlebois, Robertson GeoConsultants, Canada.

Published by InfoMine Inc., June 2014.
Copyright: InfoMine Inc.


Optimised seasonal deposition (OSD) is described and evaluated as a paradigm for the successful deposition and management of oil sands treated/flocculated mature fine tailings (MFT) near Fort McMurray, Alberta. Such treatment and management of oil sands is undertaken in order to meet or exceed the requirements of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) Directive 74, which calls for an undrained shear strength of 5 kPa one year after deposition, and 10 kPa five years after deposition. OSD involves placement of polymer-flocculated MFT as follows:

  • Spring deposition of MFT to a depth that consolidation by subsequent lifts induces strength gain.
  • Summer deposition of MFT in thin lifts which dewater and gain strength by evaporative drying.
  • Fall deposition of MFT to a thickness where freezing and thawing induces a gain in strength.

This paper describes and evaluates the concept of OSD by way of a review and critique of technical papers presented by others working in the oil sands tailings industry.

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