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Alcantara, Elijah A.

Basbas, John Leo M.

Dela Cruz, Ma. Elaine T.


Mining disasters involving mine tailings have occurred in the Philippines causing
major damages to the surrounding ecosystem. Mine tailings are the process effluents
that are generated in mine processing plant. This paper deals with the utilization of
copper mine tailings (CMT) as a building material instead of disposing it in the
environment. The objectives of this study are to test the durability and compressive
strength of copper mine tailing using a universal testing machine, to determine the
physical properties (particle size, specific gravity) of copper mine tailing, and to conduct
a structural pavement evaluation on a pavement with copper mine tailing as base
material using a falling weight deflectometer. The researchers will test a sample of
pavement that utilizes CMT as base material in laboratory conditions before
constructing it in the field where a structural pavement evaluation will be conducted on
the pavement.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Background of the Study
Mining disasters involving mine tailings have occurred in the Philippines, where
toxic mine waste discharged into bodies of water (i.e. rivers, lakes) causing flash floods
and the contamination of water supply. One notable example is the Marcopper Mining
Disaster which occurred on March 24, 1996. A fracture in the drainage tunnel of a large
pit containing leftover mine tailings caused a discharge of the toxic waste into the
Makulapnit-Boac river system which proved to be disastrous to the eco-system and
residents. The Boac River was declared unusable following the disaster. A similar

disaster occurred last 2012 in Benguet, this being the Philex mine spill which has
become the biggest mining disaster in the Philippines in terms of the volume of spilled
toxic mine waste.
Mine tailings have a disastrous effect on the environment if not disposed
properly. Other researchers have formulated disposal strategies that are an
improvement of past strategies. This study will deal in its utilization as a base material in
Statement of the Problem
This study aims to utilize copper mine tailing as base material in pavements. It
specifically aims to answer the following questions:
1. Will CMT have adequate durability and compressive strength to function as a
building material?
2. What are the physical properties of CMT?
3. Will a pavement with CMT as a base material pass the structural pavement
Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to utilize copper mine tailing as base
material in pavements. Its specific objectives are:
1. To test the durability and compressive strength of copper mine tailing using a
universal testing machine.
2. To determine the physical properties of copper mine tailing.
3. To conduct a structural pavement evaluation on a pavement with copper mine tailing
as base material using a falling weight deflectometer.

Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will help reduce the harmful effects of mine tailings by
using them in construction instead of disposing them in pits that have chances of getting
damaged, leading to the discharge of the tailings into the environment. This study can
also determine the possible advantages of copper mine tailings over the typical material
used as a base material for pavement.
Date and Place of the Study
This study will be performed from June 2016 to March 2017 at Malayan Colleges
Definition of Terms
1. Mine Tailings These consist of ground rock and process effluents that are
generated in a mine processing plant. Mechanical and chemical processes are
used to extract the desired product from the run of the mine ore and produce a
waste stream known as tailings. This process of product extraction is never
100% efficient. The unrecoverable and uneconomic metals, minerals, chemicals,
organics and process water are discharged, normally as slurry, to a final storage
area commonly known as a Tailings Management Facility (TMF).
2. Base Material A gravel-based substance used to support a paved surface.
While base material can vary by application, most include some form of
aggregate combined with a binding agent, such as asphalt or tar. Many modern
blends also include environmentally-friendly components such as recycled
concrete, shredded tires, or other sustainable products.

3. Universal Testing Machine Also known as universal tester, materials testing

machine or materials test frame, a UTM is used to test the tensile strength and
compressive strength of materials. It is universal in the sense that it can
perform many standard tensile and compression tests on materials, components
and structures.
4. Compressive Strength The capacity of a material or structure to withstand
loads tending to reduce size; it resists compression.
5. Falling Weight Deflectometer This is a testing device used by civil engineers to
evaluate the physical properties of pavement. The data obtained from this device
is primarily used to estimate pavement structural capacity for 1) overlay design
and 2) to determine if a pavement is being overloaded.

Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature

Mine Tailing Disposal Strategies
The increase of future production from lower grade ores in mines which will
generate a higher tonnage of tailings is inevitable. In 2010 alone approximately 14
billion tonnes of tailings were produced globally by the mining industry. The need for a
comprehensive framework for mine tailings management that promotes sustainable
development is therefore becoming increasingly recognized by the mining industry.
Adiansyah, Rosano, Vink, and Kier (2014) stated that mine tailings management
strategy is to protect the environment and humans from risks associated with mine
tailings. Their paper reviewed the existing frameworks for tailings management and an
improved framework was proposed which considers key sustainable development
pillars: technological, economic, environmental, policy, and social aspects. This will be

able to guide the mining sector to choose its mine tailings management strategy based
on sustainable development concepts. It incorporates a range of tools for determining
trade-offs inherent in different tailings management methods during operation and
throughout the Life of Mine (LOM); these include Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Net
Present Value (NPV), Hierarchy System Model (HSM), and Decision Analysis. In future,
the framework could be expanded through integration of reuse/recycle principles of
industrial symbiosis.

Usage of Copper Mine Tailing in the Field

According to Mahmood and (2007) tailings have been disposed into ponds
surrounded by tailings dams for many years, but this has caused many accidents, some
of which have been fatal. This required a new approach for their storage. In the early
seventies, Robinsky devised an approach for the storage and disposal of mine tailings
which suggested the environmental advantage of strengthening the tailings before
disposal. This work seeks to explore the possibility of using hardened tailings as base
materials for the construction of unpaved (temporary access) roads. Six different types
of tailings from several mines in eastern Canada are used and preliminary physical
characteristics tests were performed followed by unconfined compressive testing. Initial
results show the tailings sustained more than the minimum amount of stress normally
required for stopes and the layer coefficients for five of the tailings used match
reasonably well with values from ten US state departments of transportation.
Oluwasola and Hainin (2015) evaluates the suitability of using electric arc furnace
(EAF) steel slag and copper mine tailings (CMT) as substitution for conventional

aggregates used in pavements for roads and highways. Four mix designs containing
EAF steel slag and CMT at different proportions were investigated. Mix 1 was 100%
granite, Mix 2 consisted of 80% granite and 20% CMT, Mix 3 consisted of 80% EAF
steel slag and 20% CMT while Mix 4 consisted of 40% granite, 40% EAF steel slag and
20% CMT. The findings reveal that substituting natural granite aggregates with CMT and
EAF steel slag improved the performance properties of asphalt mixtures. The mixture
containing 80% EAF steel slag and 20% CMT produced the best results. The resilient
modulus results show that the resilient modulus of the mixes decreased as the
temperature increased. Also, the aging process significantly increased the resilient
modulus and dynamic creep modulus values. Thus, the study has revealed that the
mining by-products (CMT) and metallurgical by-products (EAF steel slag) can be utilized
as aggregates in road construction.
In their paper, Lavanya, Rao, and Kumar (2011) reviewed the previous research
studies carried out by various researchers on utilization of copper slag in geotechnical
applications is discussed and presented. The use of waste materials in road
construction has been in vogue in India for quite some time. Copper slag is one of the
waste materials that are being used extensively in the civil engineering construction
industry. Copper producing units in India leave thousands of tons of copper slag as
waste every day. Large quantities of the accumulated slag is dumped and left on costly
land, causing wastage of good cultivable land. Based on U.S. environmental protection
agency regulations, governing solid waste characteristics, copper slag can be classified
as a non-hazardous material. Granulated copper slag is more porous and, therefore,
has particle size equal to that of coarse sand.

Other Types of Materials Used as a Base Material

In 2013 Abu El-Maaty Behiry conducted a research to evaluate the effect of
quantity of steel slag on the mechanical properties of blended mixes with crushed
limestone aggregates, which used as subbase material in Egypt. Moreover, a theoretical
analysis was employed to estimate the resistance for failure factors such as vertical
deformations, vertical and radial stresses and vertical strains of subbase under
overweight trucks loads. These loads cause severe deterioration to the pavement and
thus reduce its life. The results indicated that the mechanical characteristics and the
resistance factors were improved by adding steel slag to the crushed limestone.
Chen and Zhang (2015) presented an experimental investigation of the effect of
clay invasion on shear and dilative behavior of a tested granite aggregate, used as
subbase fill. To deepen the understanding of dilation, the large-scale triaxial tests (TX)
tests were conducted on aggregateclay mixtures in saturated conditions. The invasion
of clay into unbound aggregate subbase leads to decreasing peak strength and critical
strength, with a 2030% strength loss. Both the clay inclusion and the increasing
confining pressure decrease the volumetric strain in the form of dilation suppression.
For the mixtures, the linear relationship was observed between the constant parameter
of dilatancy angle and shear stress ratio. A hyperbolic model was proposed for the
dilation rate and shear stress ratio, and the parameters, a, b, k, were identified. Results
show a good agreement between the experimental diagrams and the modeling trends.
The findings would benefit the application of unbound aggregate materials in

Conceptual Framework:

C M T w ill be an
acceptable or
optim al
m aterial to be
u sed as base
m aterial for
pavem en t or it
w ill be a poor
substitu te for
u se as base
m aterial.


C on duct
expe rim en ts th at
w ill determ in e
the e ng ine e ring
prop erties of
C M T, su ch as its
particle size an d
spe cific g ravity.
Tests w ill also be
cond u cted on a
sam p le of
pave m en t u sing
C M T as base
m a terial



C opper m in e
tailin g (C M T) &
ch aracteristics
; how it is
cu rrently
being used in
con struction
Fin d th e
h arm ful
eff e cts of C M T
on the
en vironm ent

Copper mine tailings are the ore waste from mines, and are typically a mud-like
material. Tailings characteristics can vary greatly and are dependent on the ore
mineralogy together with the physical and chemical processes used to extract the
economic product. Most instances mine tailings is influenced by the degree of
thickening and the method of deposition.
As stated in previous articles, some strategies of mine tailings disposal result in
mostly fatal accidents. This has led other researches to propose new strategies that
either dispose the mine tailings more properly or come up with ways to utilize them in
the field. This paper focuses on the latter strategy in which copper mine tailings shall be
mixed in with cement-based materials. In the case of this paper, copper mine tailings
will be used as a base material for pavement.
Copper mine tailings can potentially enhance the durability properties of cement
based materials. The increased conductivity of copper tailings blended concretes could
also be applied in deicing of roadways, runways and bridges in very cold weather

countries. The researchers have compiled other research articles that show the
effectiveness of other types of materials used as a base material. This information will
be used in comparing these types of materials to copper mine tailings

Chapter 3: Methodology
This chapter contains the materials and the procedure necessary in performing
the experiment. The researchers will determine the effectiveness of copper mine tailing
as a base material in pavement.

The copper mine tailing used for the study was collected from Didipio located on
the Island of Luzon, approximately 270 kilometers north of Manila in the Philippines.

Tailing Characteristics
The thickened tailing that will be obtained from the mine will undergo test that will
determine their physical properties that will have an effect on the load-bearing capacity
of the subgrade.
Particle Size Analysis
Hydrometer analysis was performed in accordance with ASTM D422 (1998).
Initial moisture content was determined as defined by ASTM D 2216 (1998) by taking a
representative sample. After determining the wet weight, the sample will be placed in an
oven at 105 C for 24 hours, after which another weight measurement was taken. Using

the Unified Soil Classification System (Das, 2000), the tailings will be classified
according to their particle size.
Specific Gravity
Another representative sample will be obtained which will be oven dried for 24
hours at 105C prior to determining the specific gravity. Subsequently specific gravity
tests will be performed according to ASTM D 854 (1998). Distilled water was used for
these tests and gently rotating and agitating the flasks, will assure that all air bubbles
will be eliminated from within the sample before taking the weight measurements.
Weight determinations will be made using an electronic balance sensitive to 0.01 g.
Bowles (1986) states that for specific gravities measuring between 2.4-3, another
procedure for determining the acceptable accuracy of the measurements was to have
two readings differ by no more than 2 percent. According to ASTM D854 (1998) the
specific gravity that will be obtained must have a maximum standard deviation of 0.021.
Unconfined Compressive Testing
Determining the strength of the tailings block will ensure that they are suitable
environmentally for disposal and for construction of service roads and containment
dykes thereafter. Type I Ordinary Portland cement was mixed with the tailings using a
mechanical mixer. This type of cement is usually the least expensive and is most
commonly used in solidification applications (Conner, 1990). Portland cement systems
produce stronger matrices than other inorganic binder systems in lower mix ratios,
resulting in a smaller volume of waste requiring ultimate disposal (Weitzam et al., 1988).
Cement content will be maintained constant during these tests. The mix will be poured

in a wooden mold with dimension of 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 centimeters. The mix will then be left
to cure at room temperature for 24 hours. Unconfined compression testing will be
performed by subjecting the cube to one dimensional compression from a uniaxial
machine with a peak compression force of 8.896 kN applying a constant speed of
descent. The speed of descent of the plate will be kept constant at an average of 70
mm/minute and the test will be continued until visual observation of failure of the cube.
Surface Texture Test Using Deflectometer
Deflectometer is used to measure the vertical deflection response of a surface to an impulse
load. Precision load measurement and deflection sensors measure and record the Pavement
surface characteristic which are used to calculate pavement properties. This will be used to
determine whether the copper mine tailing will have positive effect in structural pavement

Process Flowchart

Obtain CMT from Didipio

Test for Tailing Characteristics

Test for the analysis of particle size

Specific Gravity Testing

Test for Unconfined Compressive

Sample of pavement that utilizes CMT as base


Conduct a structural pavement evaluation on the pavement in

nearby subdivision

Gantt Chart

Choosing of
Review of
Defense of
Obtain CMT
from Didipio
Test for tailing
Test for
analysis of
particle size
Specific gravity
Test for
Sample of
pavement that
utilizes CMT as
base material
evaluation on
the pavement
Writing of
Final defense
of thesis
Proof Reading











Dinglasan, Rouchelle R. (2012, November 12). Philex spill biggest mining disaster
in PHL, surpassing Marcopper DENR. GMA News. Retrieved from
Jani Safaat Adiansyah, Michele Rosana, Sue Vink, Greg Keir. (2015) A framework
for a sustainable approach to mine tailings management: disposal strategies.

Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 108, Part A, pg. 1050-1062.

Mansour Edraki, Thomes Baumgartl, Emmanual Manlapig, Dee Bradshaw, Daniel
M. Franks, Chris J. Moran. (2014) Designing mine tailings for better environmental,
social and economic outcomes: a review of alternative approaches. Journal of

Cleaner Production, Vol. 84, pg. 411-420.

Mahmood, Ali A. and Mulligan, Catherine N. (2007) Investigation of the Use of Mine
Tailings for unpaved road base, proceedings of the Annual International Conference
on Soils, Sediments, Water and Energy; Vol. 12, Article II
Available at:

Chen, Xiaobin and Zhang, Jiasheng (2015) Effect of Clay Invasion on Shear
Behavior and Dilatancy of Unbound Aggregate Subbase, Transportation

Geotechnics, Vol. 8: 23-37

Behiry, (2015) Evaluation of steel slag and crushed limestone mixture as subbase
material in flexible pavement. Ain Shams Engineering Journal, Vol. 4: 43-53.