Abstract

Design of the fill or backfill material has been important subject for rock engineers due to the increase volume of underground mining operations as well as the environmental concerns raised from mineral processing plant tailings. Filling operations are useful for underground mining not only for the use of the opening as a tailing deposit but also to protect the mine against subsidence. The filled stopes are also safe working platforms for the production from downwards to upwards. The key issue to decide the applicability of tailings as paste fill material is the strength of the material. Paste fill mainly consists of water, tailing, and cement as binder material. A lead-zinc underground mine located in Balya, Balikesir, Turkey operated by Eczacibasi Esan Group was selected as site for the study. The mine was operated by sublevel stoping underground method, and it is the deepest metalliferous mine in Turkey with its high production rate. The underground openings are currently filled by cemented back fill material which mainly consists of aggregate, cement, and water. The aim of this study is to investigate the usability of process plant tailings as paste fill material. A series of tests were conducted for the different combination of paste material by changing the water and cement ratio as well as the slump. 12 different recipes for 5 different curing time were prepared to obtain the optimum mixture for paste fill that will be applicable for the mine. The results based on particle size distribution and strength properties such as uniaxial compressive strength and modulus of elasticity were used to select the most usable mixture as paste fill material for the underground mine. The use of paste fill will have an important effect on the cost of mining operation as well as environmental benefits.

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