Consolidation and atmospheric drying of fine oil sand tailings

Comparison of blind simulations and field scale results

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This paper presents a comparison between blind predictions of field tests of atmospheric drying of mature fine tailings (MFT) presented in IOSTC 2014 and field results. The numerical simulation of the consolidation and atmospheric drying of selfweight consolidating fine material is challenging and requires significant knowledge of the material, climate and the interaction between the two. This paper presents the outcome of a study which developed a numerical model, undertook material characterization and predicted the behaviour of full scale field tests undertaken in Shell Canada’s Muskeg River Mine near Fort McMurray, Alberta. The blind predictions were published in IOSTC 2014. A comparison between the observed and simulated behaviour in terms of settlement and void ratio yields a number of conclusions regarding the model: (i) all of the major observed features can be predicted by the numerical model; (ii) the quantification of the behaviour is well represented; (iii) due to the fast initial consolidation, the amount of material recorded as being deposited was underestimated; (iv) significant shear strength development requires a void ratio reduction which either requires a significant overburden or atmospheric drying.