Engineering Properties of Mine Tailings

by Howard C. Pettibone, (M.ASCE), Res. Civ. Engr.; Spokane Mining Res. Ctr., U.S. Bureau of Mines, Spokane, WA,
C. Dan Kealy, Mining Engineer; Spokane Mining Res. Ctr., U.S. Bureau of Mines, Spokane, WA,

Serial Information: Journal of the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Division, 1971, Vol. 97, Issue 9, Pg. 1207-1225

Document Type: Journal Paper


The engineering properties of tailings from nine mines are summarized to demonstrate that these are good engineering materials. Such properties as gradation, specific gravity, mineral content, laboratory maximum and minimum density, in-place density and moisture, permeability, triaxial shear data, and one-dimensional compression data are presented in graphical and tabular form. Presented is an example of tailings usage in constructing a 4-mile section of Interstate 90 near Kellogg, Idaho, proving that tailings can be used to construct a modern high-capacity freeway. The theoretical design of a small earth dam is also given as an example that tailings could be used to build a dam with adequate factors of safety. It is strongly felt that the material properties presented will promote interest in the employment of mill tailings in future construction projects for both structural and environmental reasons.

Subject Headings: Material properties | Mines and mining | Mine wastes | Construction materials | Highways and roads | Earthfill dams | Structural behavior | Minerals | Idaho | United States

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