Study of the Settling Characteristics of Tailings Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Technique

Motta Cabrera, S.C., Bryan, J., Komishke, B. and Kantzas, A.

DOI: 10.1080/17480930802127846
SWEMP 2007, 10th International Symposium on Environmental Issues and Waste Management in Energy and Mineral Production, Bangkok Thailand, Dec 11 – 13, 2007;
iFirst Article, 1-18, May 2008;
International Journal of Mining, Reclamation and Environment, 23(01), 2009, Pages 33-50


The oil sands mining and extraction processes in Canada produce large volumes of tailings that are a mixture of mainly water, clay, sand, chemicals and bitumen. This residue is deposited into tailings ponds where sand settles faster than fine clays which require many years to fully consolidate. Therefore, land reclamation and water recirculation become significant environmental issues. The tailings settling rate depends on particle size, density and surface properties which can be modified by variations in the pH, salinity, and addition of flocculants and/or coagulants. Although plant scale developments have been made to improve tailings settling rates, there is a need for an on-site fast measurement of tailings settling characteristics to determine process modifications. This study uses the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technique to analyse variations in tailings settling properties. The results show the NMR technique has potential as an online application to estimate the lifetime of a pond and to monitor oil sands processing.

A full version of this paper is available on Taylor & Francis Online.