Use of an Environmentally Friendly Polymer to Reduce the Water Content in Tailings Slurry

Yongsik Jeong, Kwangmin Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Conventional tailings slurry contains a significant amount of water, and water management is key to ensuring the stability of a tailings storage facility (TSF). Simply reducing the water content in the slurry before discharging it from the mill could be an effective way to improve TSF water management. This study investigated the potential for using an environmentally friendly polymer as a new drag reduction agent (DRA) to reduce frictional pressure loss and also conserve water. It entailed conducting pipe loop tests to assess the polymer’s effect on pressure loss in tailings flow and then applying the test results to validate a numerical model using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The model was also used to determine the polymer’s optimal concentrations at given solid concentrations and flow rates, its effect on energy efficiency for tailings transportation, and its potential for saving water. A case study for a mid-sized, hard-rock mine with a throughput of 50,000 t/day found that the solid concentration could be increased from 30 to 45% with no pressure loss by applying 1996 m3 of the polymer per day. Adding the polymer also resulted in water savings of 57,552 m3/day. The results of this study demonstrated the potential for using the new DRA not only to improve TSF stability but also to save water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1475-1486
Number of pages12
JournalMining, Metallurgy and Exploration
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Computational fluid dynamics simulation
  • Drag reduction agent
  • Pipe loop test
  • Specific energy consumption
  • Tailings
  • Water savings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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