Centrifuge model studies of fill pressures on temporary bulkheads

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 85, No. 960, 1992
R.J. Mitchell Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Abstract The use of hydraulically delivered classified tailings sands to provide ground support in large mining operations is still widespread despite recent developments of alternate backfilling methods and materials. The major disadvantages of the use of hydraulic fill are the costs and risks associated with slurry delivery. The main risk is that of bulkhead failure resulting from sand liquefaction due to insufficient operational control or due to dynamic loading from earthquake or rockburst. That risk may be eliminated by the pouring of a stiff cemented sand plug in the base of each stope prior to continuous fill pouring in that stope. An additional advantage of cemented plugs is that massive bulkheads are not needed. Instead, a temporary (removable and reusable) bulkhead can be used for plug forming.
Physical model studies of fill pressures on a temporary bulkhead were carried out in a 3 m radius centrifuge facility. Fill pouring in-flight was carried out in order to model prototype stress paths. The results indicate that the average bulkhead pressure is likely to be less than 10 kPa under normal operating conditions and less than 20 kPa under the poorest anticipated operating conditions which include smooth walls, high slimes content and high water-content slurries. A portable bulkhead consisting of a central core and a surrounding sealing bladder was modelled and found to be effective. The use of different sizes of cores allowed the stress distribution adjacent to these bulkheads to be evaluated.
Keywords: Centrifuge model studies, Backfilling, Bulkheads, Models, Fill pressures, Underground mining, Prototypes.
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