Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The potential leachability of mine tailings encapsulated in structural concrete
by Bray, Jared M., M.S., Colorado School of Mines, 2013, 159; 1543471
Abstract (Summary)

The mining and milling activities associated with extraction of metals directly generates waste in the form of mine tailings. This material is one of the largest sources of heavy metal contamination via water, air, flora, and fauna in the world. The re-use of this waste as an input to a construction material such as concrete could lead to a preventive method of reducing the environmental impact. This method of encapsulation of heavy metals has been applied to paste backfill; however, the compressive strength requirements are much lower compared to the ASTM standards for structural concrete. The objectives of this study were: (a) to examine the feasibility of maintaining the structural integrity of concrete, with compressive strength of 4,000 psi or greater with a slump of 3-4 inches, when using mine tailings as a fine aggregate, (b) investigate the ability of this material to encapsulate heavy metals, sulfates, and acid.

The waste material, collected from the Pride of the West mill in Silverton, CO, was first physically and chemically characterized. After performing batch leach extraction tests, the raw mine tailing leachate contained heavy metal concentrations above conservative regulatory limits. Then, the optimal tailing to fine aggregate ratio was investigated. It was found that the compressive strength was comparable to control samples made with aggregate and the concentration of heavy metals found in the leachate were consistently low when the ratio varied below 50%. Therefore, the ASTM standard for the minimum allowable fineness modulus was used to obtain in maximum amount of mine tailings allotted in the concrete mixture.

To examine whether metals could be leached from the concrete-tails mix, three extraction fluids varying in pH were used to accelerate the weathering process. The metals of concern were shown to have been thoroughly encapsulated in the concrete matrix, with a 2-4 log encapsulation capacity when compared to the metals leached from the raw tailings. Finally, a strength development experiment was conducted to observed changes over time. It was found that the specimens that contained mine tailings maintained comparable compressive strengths as the controls cylinders, above the minimum compressive strength requirements for structural concrete.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cohen, Ron R. H.
Commitee: Kiousis, Panos, Wayllace, Alexandra
School: Colorado School of Mines
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: MAI 52/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Civil engineering, Mining engineering
Keywords: Concrete, Encapsulation, Leachability, Mine tailings, Solidification, Stabilization
Publication Number: 1543471
ISBN: 9781303301988
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