Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Mining, Reclamation and Environment


Taylor & Francis


School of Engineering


Otieno, F., & Shukla, S. K. (2024). How does mine tailings slurry solids concentration affect stability of dam embankment slope?. International Journal of Mining, Reclamation and Environment. Advance online publication.


In view of many past failures of tailings storage facilities, practising engineers have been analysing current design guidelines for different elements of these facilities, including for tailings dams. In this paper, an attempt is made to investigate how varying tailings slurry solids concentration ((Formula presented.)) affects the stability of tailings dam embankment slope. To achieve this, elaborate two-dimensional limit equilibrium and finite element simulations were conducted and a steady-state seepage analysis was performed so as to obtain accurate free surface water flux through the slope. Initially, numerical analyses were performed for the downstream embankment slope when no material is retained upstream. Subsequently, with all parameters kept constant, the same slope was then checked when water is retained upstream, and finally for varying slurry solids concentration. Special attention was paid to the boundary between sedimentation and consolidation, defined as the solids concentration limit beyond which effective stresses start to develop. From the stability analyses performed, it is found that the factor of safety of embankment slope varies nonlinearly with total unit weight of the slurry. For coal tailings slurry, factor of safety reduced from 1.24 when water is retained to 1.15 when tailings slurry with (Formula presented.) = 60% is retained, representing a drop by 7.3%.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.