Frozen Backfill for Open Stoping in Permafrost

CIM Edmonton 2008
Daniel Cluff, James Gallagher, Ali Jalbout, Vassilios Kazakidis, Graham Swan,
Abstract Daniel L. Cluff1, James Gallagher1, Ali Jalbout2, Vassilios Kazakidis1, Graham Swan3
(1) Laurentian University, (2) Laurentian University (Now with CVRD-INCO), (3) Xstrata

The Canadian mining industry needs to find viable alternatives to the conventional cemented pastefill/hydraulic methods of backfilling open stopes for underground mines located within a permafrost zone. The harsh environment and the isolated location of a mine north of 60° impose additional challenges to standard backfill methods and opportunities to the technological and operational issues related to the use of frozen fill. Underground open stoping mining methods require the placement of fill material to enable the controlled recovery of ore from secondary and tertiary stopes. The typical design of the fill material requires the specification of inert material, water and binder. The permafrost conditions provide the additional parameter of subzero temperatures for backfill design and process control. The paper presents the results of an experimental field study, using large size samples, to determine the strength capacity of frozen backfill. The experimental work was performed utilizing rockfill and tailings material with moisture content consisting of water and ice crystals. Preliminary results indicate that the mixture of rockfill, tailings and moisture, develops strength that meet the demanded requirements for open stoping. A thermal equilibrium modelling analysis is presented in the paper.

Keywords: Frozen Backfill
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