Document Type : Case Study


1 Gorgan Agriculture and Natural Resource University, Gorgan, Iran

2 Young Researchers and Elites Club, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

3 Sari Agriculture and Natural Resource University, Sari, Iran


Changes in the tailing properties (increasing clay mineral content and fine particles) and poor operation of the dewatering systems have negative impacts on the Tailing Storage Facilities (TSF) of the Shahrbabak copper complex. The design solid concentration of the thickened tailings is 63 wt.% in the Shahrbabak paste plant but it is well below the design value right now (approx. 55 wt.%). The aim of this work is to find the effects of the clay mineral and dewatering operations on the water recovery and tailing dam capacity. The understudied samples were taken from the thickener underflow and prepared at the required solid concentrations (55, 60, 65, and 70 wt.%). The results obtained showed that the initial settled density varied from 1.044 to 1.146 t/m3 by increasing the solid concentrations from 55 to 63 wt.%. Furthermore, the shrinkage limit density of the two solid concentrations was recorded at 1.52 and 1.62 t/m3, and the crack volume was estimated at 6.3% and 7.2% of the final sample volume. Also the sub-aerial tailing beach slope in the upper quarter and the remainder of TSF was too low and exhibited 2.0% and 1.0%, respectively. However, it is far from the design values (3.5%, 2.5%, and 1.7% from head of the beach to the end). Thus it is clear that the clay minerals and fine particles hold more water in their inner network and occupy a more TSF volume. Nevertheless, the beach slope can be increased by improving the thickener performance and removing the leakage and other periodic water, although it seems impractical to achieve the design value due to the changes in the tailing properties.