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minerals

Article
Application of Slag–Cement and Fly Ash for Strength
Development in Cemented Paste Backfills
Yue Zhao , Amin Soltani * , Abbas Taheri *, Murat Karakus and An Deng
School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, The University of Adelaide,
Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia; Yue.Zhao@adelaide.edu.au (Y.Z.);
Murat.Karakus@adelaide.edu.au (M.K.); An.Deng@adelaide.edu.au (A.D.)
* Correspondence: Amin.Soltani@adelaide.edu.au (A.S.); Abbas.Taheri@adelaide.edu.au (A.T.)

Received: 25 October 2018; Accepted: 24 December 2018; Published: 30 December 2018 

Abstract: The present study investigates the combined capacity of a newly developed slag-blended
cement (MC) and fly ash (FA) as a sustainable solution towards improving the mechanical
performance of the cemented paste backfill (CPB) system of a copper-gold underground mine.
A total of thirteen mix designs consisting of three MC-treated and ten MC + FA-treated blends were
examined. Samples were prepared with a solids content of 77% (by total mass), and were allowed to
cure for 7, 14, 28, 56 and 128 days prior unconfined compression testing. Scanning electron microscopy
(SEM) studies were also carried out to observe the evolution of fabric in response to MC and MC
+ FA amendments. The greater the MC content and/or the longer the curing period, the higher
the developed strength, toughness and stiffness. The exhibited improvements, however, were only
notable up to 56 days of curing, beyond of which the effect of curing was marginal. The performance
of 4% Portland cement or PC (by total dry mass) was found to be similar to that of 1.5% MC, while
the higher MC inclusions of 2.5% and 3%, though lower in terms of binder content, unanimously
outperformed 4% PC. The use of FA alongside MC improved the bonding/connection interface
generated between the tailings aggregates, and thus led to improved mechanical performance
compared with similar MC inclusions containing no FA. Common strength criteria for CPBs were
considered to assess the applicability of the newly introduced MC and MC + FA mix designs. The mix
designs “3% MC” and “2.5% MC + 2–2.5% FA” satisfied the 700 kPa strength threshold required for
stope stability, and thus were deemed as optimum design choices.

Keywords: cemented paste backfill; slag; fly ash; Portland cement; unconfined compression; strength;
stiffness; scanning electron microscopy

1. Introduction
Mine tailings, a by-product of the ore beneficiation process, are among the largest and most
problematic sources of solid waste. Approximately 14 billion tons of tailings were produced globally
by the mining industry in 2010 [1]. Given the high-volume generation of tailings every year throughout
the world, a significant concern hitherto has been the space required for storing and transporting
these waste materials, and the resulting environmental hazards and costs [2,3]. Tailings have been
traditionally deposited into tailings storage facilities such as embankments, dams and other types
of surface impoundments [4,5]. These conventional disposal methods, though commonly practiced,
are often associated with serious environmental, geotechnical (or structural failure) and economic
concerns [6–8].
The mining process involves the removal and recovery of economically valuable minerals from
the earth’s crust. The resulting excavations are commonly revived by a process referred to as
backfilling [9–11]. The fill performs as both a support system and a working platform; its different roles

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determine the requirements of its mechanical properties. Backfilling techniques can be categorized
into three groups, namely, rock fills, hydraulic fills and paste fills, which can be implemented in
cemented or uncemented forms [12]. Cemented Paste Backfill (CPB) is a high-density slurry composed
of dewatered tailings, a cementitious binder and processed mine water, which is thickened to obtain
a non-settling character for facile pumping into mined cavities resulted from underground mine
operations. The desired rheological behavior, the non-settling character, often emerges at a solids
content (by total mass) ranging between 70% and 85% [12–14]. CPB technology recycles tailings into
underground mine excavations, and as such, reduces the volume of surface-disposed tailings, mitigates
the burden on the environment, and assists waste management [15–18].
Over the past few decades, CPB technology has been increasingly applied to reviving mined
cavities in underground mine operations, owing to its low operating costs as well as its superior
mechanical performance compared with other backfilling methods, i.e., rock fills and hydraulic
fills [19–22]. Strength performance of CPBs is governed by physicochemical and mineralogical
properties of the tailings, chemical composition of the mixing water, binder type (and its content),
the adopted mix design (or solids content), and in situ stress and curing conditions [5,23–28].
Ordinary Portland cement is often implemented as the cementitious binder; its application for strength
development of CPBs has been well documented in the literature. Some reports indicate that the cost
of CPB implementation tends to vary from 10% to 20% of the mine’s total operating cost, and the
cementitious binder represents up to 75% of the total CPB cost [11]. In an attempt to minimize
costs while maintaining the strength performance at its required level, the use of alternative binders
and/or additives should be sought. In this context, several studies have examined the efficiency of
newly developed cement blends, fly ashes, nano-silica particles and superplasticizers [5,18,29–33].
Though promising, the reported results are not consistent in defining an ad hoc alternative for Portland
cement, and as such, further research is urgently required.
The present study examines the combined capacity of a newly developed slag-blended cement,
the binder, and fly ash, the additive, as a sustainable solution towards improving the mechanical
performance of a copper-gold underground mine CPB system. A series of unconfined compression
tests were carried out on various binder and binder + additive mix designs to evaluate the effect of
binder and/or additive contents and curing time on strength, toughness and stiffness of the CPB
system. Additional tests were also carried out on samples prepared with ordinary Portland cement
for comparison. Finally, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies were carried out to observe the
evolution of fabric in response to the binder and binder + additive amendments.

2. Materials

2.1. Mine Tailings


A large quantity of processed tailings was sourced from a copper-gold underground mine, and was
used in the present study. The physical and mechanical properties of the tailings, determined as per
relevant ASTM and Australian (AS) standards, are summarized in Table 1. The conventional grain-size
analysis, carried out in accordance with ASTM D422–07, indicated a fines fraction (<75 µm) of 38.6%,
along with 55.2% fine sand (0.075–0.425 mm) and 6.2% medium sand (0.425–2 mm). The liquid limit
and plasticity index were, respectively, measured as wL = 19.2% and IP = 6.1%, of which the fines
fraction of the tailings was characterized as clay–silt with low plasticity (i.e., CL–ML) in accordance
with the Unified Soil Classification System (USCS). The standard Proctor compaction test, carried
out in accordance with ASTM D698–12, indicated an optimum water content of wopt = 8.7% and a
maximum dry unit weight of γdmax = 20.2 kN/m3 , which are both on par with that reported for natural
CL–ML soils [34,35].
The chemical composition of the tailings, as supplied by the distributor, is provided in Table 2.
The chemical composition is mainly dominated by silicon dioxide (SiO2 ) and ferric oxide (Fe2 O3 ), with
mass fractions of 38.27% and 37.70%, respectively.
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Table 1. Physical and mechanical properties of the used tailings.

Properties Value Standard Designation


Specific gravity, Gs 2.4 ASTM D854–14
Natural water content, wN (%) 40.2 ASTM D2216–10
Fines [<75 µm] (%) 38.6 ASTM D422–07
Fine sand [0.075–0.425 mm] (%) 55.2 ASTM D422–07
Medium sand [0.425–2 mm] (%) 6.2 ASTM D422–07
Coarse sand [2–4.75 mm] (%) 0 ASTM D422–07
Liquid limit, wL (%) 19.2 AS 1289.3.9.1–15
Plastic limit, wP (%) 13.1 AS 1289.3.2.1–09
Plasticity index, IP (%) 6.1 AS 1289.3.3.1–09
USCS classification CL–ML 1 ASTM D2487–11
Optimum water content, wopt (%) 8.7 ASTM D698–12
Maximum dry unit weight, γdmax (kN/m3 ) 20.2 ASTM D698–12
Unconfined compressive strength, qu (kPa) 2 143.6 ASTM D2166–16
1 Clay–Silt with low plasticity; and 2 Tested at standard Proctor optimum condition.

Table 2. Chemical composition of the used tailings (as supplied by the distributor).

Component SiO2 Fe2 O3 Al2 O3 K2 O CaO MgO TiO2 Na2 O Other


Mass percentage (%) 38.27 37.70 7.19 2.33 0.81 0.75 0.56 0.07 12.32

2.2. Binders and Additives


A commercially manufactured cementitious agent, commonly traded as Mine Cement in
Australia (and hereafter referred to as MC), was used as the binder. MC is a slag-blended cement
specifically developed for underground mine backfilling applications. The chemical composition of
MC, as supplied by the manufacturer, consists of ground-granulated blast-furnace slag (50%), Portland
cement clinker (20%), cement kiln dust (<15%), natural gypsum (5–7%), limestone (<7%), and other
mineral additives (see Table 3). As stated by the manufacturer, an MC content of 3% (by total dry
mass) is anticipated to satisfy common strength criteria for cemented paste backfills adopted in mining
applications. Class C Fly Ash, hereafter referred to as FA, was adopted as the siliceous-aluminous (or
pozzolan) additive to partially replace (by mass) the main cementitious binder (or MC).

Table 3. Chemical composition of MC (as supplied by the manufacturer).

Component Mass Percentage (%)


Ground-granulated blast-furnace slag 50
Portland cement clinker 20
Cement kiln dust <15
Natural gypsum 5–7
Chloride, Cl− <8
Limestone <7
Sulfur trioxide, SO3 <4
Crystalline silica <1

2.3. Mine Water


A large quantity of processed mine water was sourced from the underground copper-gold mine,
and was used for the experimental program (see Section 3.1). The chemical composition of the
processed mine water, as supplied by the distributor, is presented in Table 4. The pH was found to be
7.5, based on which the water was characterized as a neutral substance.
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Table 4. Chemical composition of the processed mine water (as supplied by the distributor).

Component Cl− SO4 2− NO3 − Na+ Ca2+ K+ Mg2+


Value (mg/L) 5800 2400 6 3800 480 380 280

3. Experimental Program

3.1. Mix Designs and Sample Preparations


In this study, a total of thirteen mix designs consisting of three MC-treated and ten MC + FA-treated
blends were examined (see Table 5). Hereafter, the following coding system is used to designate the
various mix designs:
Mx Fy Tz (1)

where Mx = x% MC; Fy = y% FA; and Tz = z days of curing.


The binder or binder + additive (MC or MC + FA), solids and water contents were, respectively,
defined as:
mB
Bc = × 100 (2)
mB + mT
mB + mT
Sc = × 100 (3)
mB + mT + mW
mW
Wc = × 100 (4)
mB + mT
where Bc = binder or binder + additive content (in %); Sc = solids content (in %); W c = water content
(in %); mB = mass of binder or binder + additive; mT = mass of dry tailings; and mW = mass of processed
mine water.

Table 5. Mix designs and their properties.

Designation MC Content, M c (%) FA Content, F c (%) Solids Content, Sc (%) Water Content, W c (%)
M1.5 F0 T7,14,28,56,128 1.5 0 77 30
M2.5 F0 T7,14,28,56,128 2.5 0 77 30
M3.0 F0 T7,14,28,56,128 3.0 1 0 77 30
M1.5 F0.5 T7,14,28,56,128 1.5 0.5 77 30
M1.5 F1.0 T7,14,28,56,128 1.5 1.0 77 30
M1.5 F1.5 T7,14,28,56,128 1.5 1.5 77 30
M1.5 F2.0 T7,14,28,56,128 1.5 2.0 77 30
M1.5 F2.5 T7,14,28,56,128 1.5 2.5 77 30
M2.5 F0.5 T7,14,28,56,128 2.5 0.5 77 30
M2.5 F1.0 T7,14,28,56,128 2.5 1.0 77 30
M2.5 F1.5 T7,14,28,56,128 2.5 1.5 77 30
M2.5 F2.0 T7,14,28,56,128 2.5 2.0 77 30
M2.5 F2.5 T7,14,28,56,128 2.5 2.5 77 30
1 Manufacturer-recommended content.

The tailings and binder (or binder + additive) were mixed in dry form in accordance with the
adopted MC and MC + FA contents summarized in Table 5. The required amount of processed mine
water corresponding to a water content of W c = 30% (or a solids content of Sc = 77%) was added to each
blend, and thoroughly mixed by a mechanical mixer for approximately 5 minutes to obtain slurries of
uniform consistency. The choice of W c = 30% (or Sc = 77%) was selected as per the mine’s requirements;
this provides the rheological behavior required to accommodate facile pumping of the paste into mined
cavities. The resultant slurries were poured into cylindrical molds (measuring 42 mm in diameter and
100 mm in height) in one-third length increments, each layer being tamped approximately 25 times
with a small metal rod to remove entrapped air. The molds were then transferred to a humidity
chamber, maintained at 70% relative humidity and a temperature of 25 ◦ C, where curing was allowed
for periods of 7, 14, 28, 56 and 128 days. Upon demolding, the two ends of the samples were covered
Minerals 2019, 9, 22 5 of 19

with a thin layer of dental paste, targeting surface homogeneity, and hence uniform load distribution,
during unconfined compression testing (see Section 3.2).

3.2. Unconfined Compression Test


Unconfined compression (UC) tests were carried out in accordance with ASTM C39–18.
The prepared samples (see Section 3.1) were axially compressed at a constant displacement rate
of 0.1 mm/min. Axial strains and the corresponding axial stresses were recorded at various time
intervals to a point at which the maximum axial stress required for sample failure, denoted as the
peak UC strength, and its corresponding axial strain could be achieved. To ensure sufficient accuracy,
triplicate samples were tested for each mix design and the median value was considered for further
analyses. On account of the five curing times and the three replicates adopted, a total of 195 UC tests,
i.e., 45 for MC and 150 for MC + FA, were conducted to address the thirteen mix designs outlined in
Table 5. The standard deviation (SD) and the coefficient of variation (CV) for the triplicate peak UC
strength data were found to range between SD = 2.0 kPa and 4.9 kPa, and CV = 0.4% and 0.8%, thus
corroborating the sufficient accuracy and, hence, the repeatability of the adopted sample preparation
technique and the implemented testing procedure.

3.3. Microstructure Analysis


Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies were carried out to investigate the evolution of
fabric in response to MC and MC + FA amendments. The Philips XL20 scanning electron microscope
(PHILIPS, Amsterdam, The Netherlands), with a resolution of 4 µm and a maximum magnification
ratio of 50,000×, was employed for SEM imaging. A total of five mix designs consisting of M0 F0 T7
(pure tailings), M2.5 F0 T7 , M2.5 F0 T28 , M2.5 F1.5 T7 and M2.5 F1.5 T28 were examined. The middle sections
of the desired samples (prepared as per Section 3.1) were carefully fractured into small cubic–shaped
pieces, measuring approximately 1 cm3 in volume, as suggested in the literature [36,37], and were
further scanned over various magnification ratios ranging from 250× to 20,000×. The pure tailings
sample (or M0 F0 T7 ) was prepared in a similar fashion to that described for various MC and MC + FA
blends (see Section 3.1). In this case, however, the molded tailings slurry was allowed to desiccate
under room temperature conditions (for 7 days) to gain rigidity for SEM testing.

4. Results and Discussions

4.1. Effect of MC on UC Strength


Stress–strain curves, obtained from the UC tests, for various MC-treated mixtures—Mx Fy Tz where
x = {1.5, 2.5, 3.0}, y = {0} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}—are provided in Figure A1 in the Appendix A
section. The stress–strain locus for all MC-treated mixtures exhibited a rise–fall behavior with visually
detectable peak points, thus signifying a strain-softening character accompanied by brittle sample
failures. In general, the greater the MC content and/or the longer the curing period, the more
pronounced the strain-softening effect, and hence, the more dramatic the sample failures.
Figure 1a illustrates the variations of peak UC strength against MC content for the samples tested
at various curing times. At any given curing time, the greater the MC content the higher the peak UC
strength, following a monotonically increasing trend. The sample M1.5 F0 T7 , for instance, exhibited a
peak UC strength of qu = 272.1 kPa, while the inclusion of Mc = 2.5% and 3%, with the same 7-day
curing condition, resulted in qu = 375.5 kPa and 476.5 kPa, respectively. Similarly, for any given
MC content, an increase in curing time promoted a major increase in the peak UC strength up to
Tc = 56 days, beyond of which the effect of curing was found to be rather marginal. The inclusion
of 3% MC at Tc = 7 days, for instance, resulted in qu = 476.5 kPa, while higher values of 619.5 kPa,
719.3 kPa, 800.6 kPa and 812.6 kPa were noted for the same 3% MC inclusion at 14, 28, 56 and 128 days
of curing, respectively.
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Minerals 2019, 9, 22 6 of 19
800.6 kPa and 812.6 kPa were noted for the same 3% MC inclusion at 14, 28, 56 and 128 days of curing,
respectively.
The
Theaxial
axialstrain
strainatatfailure,
failure,denoted
denoted asas εεuu,, isisan
anindication
indication ofof the
the material’s
material’s ductility,
ductility,withwithhigher
higher
values manifesting a more ductile/less brittle character [38,39]. Figure 1b illustrates
values manifesting a more ductile/less brittle character [38,39]. Figure 1b illustrates the variations the variations of
of axial strain at failure against MC content for the samples tested at various
axial strain at failure against MC content for the samples tested at various curing times. The axial curing times. The axial
strain
strainatatfailure
failuredemonstrated
demonstrateda atrend
trendsimilar
similar toto that observed
that observedforforthethepeak
peak UCUC strength;
strength; however,
however, in anin
adverse manner. In general, the greater the MC content and/or the longer the
an adverse manner. In general, the greater the MC content and/or the longer the curing period, the curing period, the lower
the sample’s
lower ductility.
the sample’s As typical
ductility. cases, the
As typical samples
cases, M1.5 F0M
the samples T71.5
,M F0T1.5 F0 T1.5128
7, M F0,TM
1283.0
,M F3.0
0 TF70Tand M M3.0
7 and 3.0
F0FT0T
128
128
resulted in ε = 4.74%, 2.58%, 3.81% and 1.80%, respectively.
resulted in εuu = 4.74%, 2.58%, 3.81% and 1.80%, respectively.

900 6
7 days 14 days 28 days 7 days 14 days 28 days

Axial strain at failure, εu (%)


Peak UC strength, qu (kPa)

750 56 days 128 days 5 56 days 128 days

600 4

450 3

300 2

150 1

0 0
1.5 2.5 3.0 1.5 2.5 3.0
(a) MC content, Mc (%) (b) MC content, Mc (%)

Figure1.1.Variations
Figure Variationsofof(a)(a)peak
peakUC
UCstrength
strengthqquuand
and(b)(b)axial
axialstrain
strainat
atfailure
failureεεuuagainst
againstMC MCcontent
contentfor for
thesamples
the samplestested
testedatatvarious
various curing
curing times
times (i.e.,
(i.e., MxM FyxTFzyTwhere
z wherex =x{1.5,
= {1.5,
2.5,2.5, 3.0},
3.0}, y = y{0}
= {0}
andand z = 14,
z = {7, {7, 28,
14,
28,128}).
56, 56, 128}).

The
The area underunder aatypical typicalstress–strain
stress–strain curve
curve up up
to the to failure
the failure point, point,
defineddefined
as peak asstrain
peak energy
strain
energy (or energy adsorption capacity) and denoted as E ,
(or energy adsorption capacity) and denoted as Eu, serves uas a measure of the material’s toughness serves as a measure of the material’s
toughness
[40,41]. Figure[40,41]. Figure 2a the
2a illustrates illustrates
variationsthe ofvariations
peak strain of peak
energy strain energy
against MCagainst
contentMC content
for the samples for
the samples tested at various curing times. The variations of
tested at various curing times. The variations of peak strain energy followed a trend similar to that peak strain energy followed a trend
similar
observed to for
thatthe observed
peak UCfor the peak
strength, thusUCindicating
strength, that thusthe indicating
greater the thatMC thecontent
greaterand/or
the MC the content
longer
and/or
the curing the period,
longer the the curing
higher period, the higher
the sample’s degree theofsample’s
toughness. degree of toughness.
An increase in peak An increase
strain energy in
peak strain energy signifies an increase in the peak UC strength
signifies an increase in the peak UC strength and/or the axial strain at failure, thereby indicating a and/or the axial strain at failure,
thereby
balanceindicating
between the a balance
material’s between
strength theand
material’s
ductility strength
[42–44].and ductility [42–44].
As demonstrated As demonstrated
in Figure 1b, the axial
in Figure
strain 1b, thewas
at failure axialadversely
strain at affected
failure was by MCadversely
inclusion affected
and/or bycuring
MC inclusion
time, andand/or
thus shouldcuringlead time, to
and thus should lead to lower peak strain energy values. On the
lower peak strain energy values. On the contrary, the peak UC strength was in favor of greater MC contrary, the peak UC strength was in
favor
contentsof greater
and/orMC longercontents
curingand/or
times (see longer curing
Figure 1a),times
which(see Figure
in turn 1a), which
should give risein turn should
to higher give
degrees
rise to higher degrees of toughness. As such, the increase in peak
of toughness. As such, the increase in peak strain energy, as demonstrated in Figure 2a, indicates that strain energy, as demonstrated in
Figure 2a, indicatesinthat
the improvement qu fortheallimprovement
MC-treated mixtures in qu foroutweighs
all MC-treated mixturesreduction
the exhibited outweighs inthe
εu. exhibited
As typical
reduction
cases, the in εu . As M
samples typical
1.5F0T7cases,
, M1.5Fthe , M3.0F0TM
samples
0T128 1.5 F0M
7 and T73.0, FM0T 128Fresulted
1.5 0 T 128 , M3.0
inFE0uT=7 7.4
andkJ/mM3.03,F12.3
0 T 128 resulted
kJ/m 3, 13.9

in E = 7.4 kJ/m 3 , 12.3 kJ/m 3 , 13.9 kJ/m3 and 18.7 kJ/m3 , respectively.
kJ/m u and 18.7 kJ/m , respectively.
3 3

The
The elastic
elastic stiffness modulus, modulus, defineddefinedas asthe
thesecant
secantmodulusmodulus at at
50%50% of the
of the peak peak
UCUC strength
strength and
and denoted
denoted as Eas 50 E [44,45],
[44,45],
50 waswas alsoalso measured
measured for
for various
various MC-treated
MC-treated mixtures,
mixtures, and
and the results
results are
are
provided in Figure 2b. Similar to the peak UC strength and the
provided in Figure 2b. Similar to the peak UC strength and the peak strain energy, the development peak strain energy, the development
of
ofstiffness
stiffnesswas wasininfavor favorofofa agreater
greaterMC MCcontent
contentand/orand/ora alonger longercuring curingtime.
time.The samplesMM
Thesamples FF
1.51.5 0T
0T77
andM
and 1.5F00T128
M1.5 128, , for
for instance,
instance, resulted
resulted in
in E 50
50 == 17.7
17.7 MPa
MPa and
and 32.6
32.6 MPa,
MPa, respectively.
respectively. With
With the
the inclusion
inclusion
of
of 3%
3%MC;MC;however,
however,higher higher values
values of of 29.3
29.3 MPaMPa and and 74.674.6 MPa MPa were were observed
observed at at 77 and
and 128 128 days
days of of
curing,
curing,respectively.
respectively.
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2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 90 7 of 19

E50 (MPa)
7 days 14 days 28 days 7 days 14 days 28 days
u (kJ/m )
3
24 56 days 128 days 90 56 days 128 days

E50 (MPa)
20 75
7 days 14 days 28 days 7 days 14 days 28 days
Eu (kJE/m 3)

20 56 days 128 days 75 56 days 128 days

modulus,
16 60
energy,

modulus,
16
12 60
45
energy,

stiffness
strainstrain

128 45
30

stiffness
84 30
Peak Peak

15

Elastic
40 150

Elastic
1.5 2.5 3.0 1.5 2.5 3.0
(a) 0 1.5 MC content,
2.5 Mc (%) 3.0
(b) 0 1.5 MC content,
2.5 Mc (%) 3.0
(a)Figure 2. Variations
MC content, M
of (a) peak(%) (b) MC content, M (%)
c strain energy Eu and (b) elastic stiffness modulus Ec50 against MC
Figure 2. Variations of (a) peak strain energy Eu and (b) elastic stiffness modulus E50 against MC
content forsamples
the samples tested at various curing times(i.e.,
(i.e., MxFFyTz where
wherex xmodulus
==
{1.5, 2.5,2.5,
3.0}, y = y{0}= and
content for the
Figure 2. Variations tested at various
of (a) peak strain curing Eu and (b) M
energy times x y Tzstiffness
elastic {1.5, E50 3.0},
against MC {0} and
z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
z = {7, 14, 28,for
content 56,the
128}).
samples tested at various curing times (i.e., MxFyTz where x = {1.5, 2.5, 3.0}, y = {0} and
z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
Figures 3a and 3b illustrate the variations of Eu and E50 against qu for various MC-treated
Figure 3a,b illustrate the variations of Eu and E50 against qu for various MC-treated mixtures,
mixtures, respectively.
and 3bThe variations of Eu lies within
of Euuthe 0.022q u < Eu < 0.033qu domain (Eu in kJ/m 3,
Figures
respectively. The3a variations illustrate
of Eu liesthe variations
within the 0.022q and
< EuE< against
50 0.033q
uq u for various
domain kJ/m3 , and qu
(Eu inMC-treated
and q
mixtures,u in kPa). For E50, however, a wider domain in the form of 0.056qu < E50 < 0.092qu (E50 in MPa, and
respectively.
in kPa). For E50 , however,The variations
a wider domainof Ein
u lies within the 0.022qu < Eu < 0.033qu domain (Eu in kJ/m3,
the form of 0.056qu < E50 < 0.092qu (E50 in MPa, and qu
q u in kPa) can be observed. Both Eu and E50 exhibited good correlations with qu. In this case, simple
and qu in kPa). For E50, however, a wider domain in the form of 0.056qu < E50 < 0.092qu (E50 in MPa, and
in kPa) can be observed. Both Eu of Eu =E0.025q
and 50 exhibited good correlations with qu . In R this case, can
simple
qcorrelative models in the forms u (with R2 = 0.742) and E50 = 0.073qu (with 2 = 0.833)
u in kPa) can be observed. Both Eu and E50 exhibited good correlations with qu. In this case,
2 = 0.742) simple
2 = 0.833)
correlative models
be obtained, in the
and hence forms of E u = 0.025q u (with R and E = 0.073q u (with R
in theimplemented
forms of Eu =for indirect estimations. 50
correlative models 0.025q u (with R2 = 0.742) and E50 = 0.073qu (with R2 = 0.833) can
can be obtained, and hence implemented for indirect estimations.
be obtained,
20
and hence implemented for indirect estimations.
80
E50 (MPa)

Upper boundary
u (kJ/m )
3

20
18 80
70
E50 (MPa)

Lower boundary
Upper boundary
3)

18 70 Best fit
Eu (kJE/m

16 60 Lower boundary
modulus,
energy,

16
14 60
50 Best fit
modulus,

Eu = 0.025 qu
energy,

14
12 [R2 = 0.742] 50
40
stiffness
strainstrain

Eu = 0.025 qu
E50 = 0.073 qu
12
10 [R2 = 0.742] 40
30
stiffness

Upper boundary [R2 = 0.833]


Peak Peak

E50 = 0.073 qu
Elastic

108 Lower boundary 30


20
Upper boundary [R2 = 0.833]
Best fit
Elastic

86 Lower boundary 20
10
200 300 400 500 600 Best
700fit 800 900 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900
(a) 6 200 300 Peak 400 UC500
strength,
600 qu 700
(kPa) 800 900 (b) 10 200 300 Peak 400 UC strength,
500 600 qu700
(kPa) 800 900
(a)Figure 3. Variations
Peak UCofstrength,
(a) peak qstrain
(b)
u (kPa)energy Eu and (b) elastic stiffness
Peak UC strength,
modulus qu (kPa)
E50 against peak UC
strength qu for various MC-treated mixtures (i.e., MxFyTz where x = {1.5, 2.5, 3.0}, y = {0} and z = {7, 14,
Figure
Figure 3. Variations
3. Variations of (a)
of (a) peak
peak strain
strain energyEEuuand
energy and (b)
(b) elastic
elasticstiffness
stiffnessmodulus
modulus E50Eagainst peak UC
50 against peak UC
28, 56, 128}).
strength
strength qu various
qu for for various MC-treated
MC-treated mixtures(i.e.,
mixtures (i.e.,M
MxFFyT
T z where x = {1.5, 2.5, 3.0}, y = {0} and z = {7, 14,
where x = {1.5, 2.5, 3.0}, y = {0} and z = {7, 14,
x y z
28, 56,
28, 56,Table 128}).
128}).6 presents common strength criteria for cemented paste backfills adopted in mining
applications. As is evident from the data outlined in Figure 1a, the peak UC strength for various MC-
Table 6 presents common strength criteria for cemented paste backfills
Table
treated 6 presents
mixtures common strength criteria for(for
cemented paste backfills adoptedadopted
in mining in applications.
mining
applications. As isranges
evidentbetween
from the272.1 kPa
data outlined MFigure
in 1.5F0T7) and 812.6 kPa (for M3.0F0T128), and thus
1a, the peak UC strength for various MC-
As is satisfies
evident from the data outlined
the requirement in Figure 1a,liquefaction
for eliminating the peak UC strength for various MC-treated mixtures
treated mixtures ranges between 272.1 kPa (for M1.5F0T7) in andunderground
812.6 kPa (fordisposal
M3.0F0T128applications.
), and thus
ranges between
However,the 272.1
none kPa (for
of the testedM F T
1.5samples ) and 812.6
meet the kPa (for
prerequisite M F T ), and thus satisfies the requirement
satisfies requirement for 0eliminating
7 liquefaction in for
3.0 roof supportdisposal
0 128
underground applications, i.e., qu >
applications.
for eliminating
However, none of the tested samples meet the prerequisite for roof support applications, i.e., samples
4000 kPa, liquefaction
and hence in underground
alternative mix designsdisposal
should applications.
be sought. However,
The inclusion none
of M of
c =the
3% tested
resulted qu in
>
qthe
meet4000 u = prerequisite
719.3 kPa at 28
for days
roof of curing,
support and thus
applications, satisfies
i.e., q the minimum 700 kPa
kPa, and hence alternative mix designs should be sought. The inclusion of Mc = 3% resulteddesigns
u > 4000 kPa, and threshold
hence suggested
alternative mix for
in
shouldqstope
u =be
stability.
sought.
719.3 With
kPa atThe regard
inclusion
28 days to
ofsurface
of curing, Mandc = 3% disposal
thus resulted applications,
satisfies theqminimum
in u = 719.3all kPa
MC-treated
at 28
700 kPa mixtures,
days
threshold excluding
of suggested
curing, and
for thus
M
satisfies
stope 1.5F0T7 and M1.5F0T14, well meet the qu > 345 kPa criterion. Moreover, the ASTM D4609–08 standard
thestability.
minimum With 700 kPa threshold
regard to surfacesuggested for stope stability.
disposal applications, With regard
all MC-treated to surface
mixtures, excludingdisposal
suggests a minimum
M1.5F0T14,increase of the
345 qkPa in the peak UC strength as athe
criterion
M 1.5F0T7 and
applications, all MC-treated wellmixtures,
meet u > 345 kPaM
excluding criterion.
1.5 F0 T7 andMoreover,
M1.5 F0 T , wellfor
14ASTM
characterizing
D4609–08
meet the qstandard an
u > 345 kPa
effective
suggests stabilization
a minimum scheme
increase for general/non-mining
of 345 kPa in the peak construction
UC strength practices
as a criterion [46]. Conservatively,
forofcharacterizing anpeak
criterion. Moreover, the ASTM D4609–08 standard suggests a minimum increase 345 kPa in the
assumingstabilization
effective that the non-cemented
scheme for tailings in high-moisture
general/non-mining environments
construction practices would
[46]. have a low to
Conservatively,
UC strength as a criterion for characterizing an effective stabilization scheme for general/non-mining
negligible that
assuming peaktheUCnon-cemented
strength, all MC-treated in mixtures,
tailingsassuminghigh-moisture excluding M1.5F0T7 and
environments M1.5F0T14, well
would meet
construction practices [46]. Conservatively, that the non-cemented tailingshave a low
in high-moisture to
negligible peak UC strength, all MC-treated mixtures, excluding M1.5F0T7 and M1.5F0T14, well meet
environments would have a low to negligible peak UC strength, all MC-treated mixtures, excluding
Minerals 2019, 9, 22 8 of 19

M1.5 FMinerals 2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 19


0 T7 and M1.5 F0 T14 , well meet with the aforementioned criterion and hence are deemed to be optimum
design choices for general construction practices.
with the aforementioned criterion and hence are deemed to be optimum design choices for general
construction practices.
Table 6. Common strength criteria for cemented paste backfills adopted in mining applications.
Table 6. Common strength criteria for cemented
Application Peak UCpaste backfillsq adopted
Strength, (kPa) in mining applications.
Reference u
Application
Roof support Peak UC>4000
Strength, qu (kPa) [47,48] Reference
RoofStope stability
support 700–2000 (at T c = 28 days)
>4000 [19] [47,48]
Surface disposal
Stope stability >345
700–2000 (at Tc = 28 days) [49] [19]
Eliminating liquefaction
Surface disposal 150–300
>345 [48,50] [49]
Eliminating liquefaction 150–300 [48,50]
Portland Cement (PC) often serves as a benchmark binder with respect to underground mine
Portland Cement (PC) often serves as a benchmark binder with respect to underground mine
backfilling applications. The performance of any newly introduced binder, such as MC, should hence be
backfilling applications. The performance of any newly introduced binder, such as MC, should hence
cross-checked with that of PC to further justify its applicability. In this regard, Figure 4a,b illustrate the
be cross-checked with that of PC to further justify its applicability. In this regard, Figures 4a and 4b
variations of peak UC strength and elastic stiffness modulus against curing time for the samples treated
illustrate the variations of peak UC strength and elastic stiffness modulus against curing time for the
with 1.5%,
samples2.5% and 3%
treated MC
with alongside
1.5%, 2.5% and 4%3% PC,MCrespectively. It should
alongside 4% be noted that
PC, respectively. all PC-treated
It should be noted samples
that
were all
prepared in asamples
PC-treated similarwere
fashion to that
prepared in described for various
a similar fashion to thatMC-treated
described forblends various(see Section 3.1).
MC-treated
The performance of 4%3.1).
blends (see Section PCThe wasperformance
found to be on PC
of 4% parwas
with thattoofbe1.5%
found on parMC, while
with the1.5%
that of higher
MC,MC
inclusions
while of
the2.5% and
higher MC3% unanimously
inclusions of 2.5%outperformed 4% PC outperformed
and 3% unanimously in terms of both 4% PC strength
in termsandof stiffness.
both
strengththe
Interestingly, andeffect
stiffness. Interestingly,
of curing time, i.e.,the
Tc effect of days,
= 14–56 curingwas
time, i.e., Ttoc =be14–56
found ratherdays, was found
marginal to be
for PC-treated
rather marginal for PC-treated mixtures, while the development of strength and
mixtures, while the development of strength and particularly stiffness were evidently monotonic for particularly stiffness
were
various evidently monotonic
MC-treated for various
blends (compare MC-treated3%
the trendlines blends
MC and(compare
4% PC theintrendlines
Figure 4).3% AsMC and 4%case,
a typical PC 4%
in Figure 4). As a typical case, 4% PC resulted in qu= 352.8 kPa (E50 = 26.7 MPa) at 28 days of curing,
PC resulted in qu = 352.8 kPa (E50 = 26.7 MPa) at 28 days of curing, while the inclusion of Mc = 1.5%, 2.5%
while the inclusion of Mc = 1.5%, 2.5% and 3% (at Tc = 28 days), though lower in terms of binder
and 3% (at Tc = 28 days), though lower in terms of binder content, resulted in similar to higher values of
content, resulted in similar to higher values of qu = 325.2 kPa, 510.6 kPa and 719.3 kPa (E50 = 27.6 MPa,
qu = 325.2 kPa, 510.6 kPa and 719.3 kPa (E = 27.6 MPa, 37.8 MPa and 41.9 MPa), respectively.
37.8 MPa and 41.9 MPa), respectively. 50

1050 84
Elastic stiffness modulus, E50 (MPa)

1.5% MC 2.5% MC 3.0% MC 4.0% PC 1.5% MC 2.5% MC 3.0% MC 4.0% PC


Peak UC strength, qu (kPa)

900 72

750 60
3% MC

600 48
3% MC
450 36
4% PC
4% PC
300 24

150 12

0 0
14 28 56 14 28 56
(a) Curing time, Tc (days) (b) Curing time, Tc (days)

Figure
Figure 4. Variations
4. Variations of peak
of (a) (a) peak
UCUC strengthququand
strength and(b)
(b)elastic
elastic stiffness
stiffness modulus
modulusE50E50
against curing
against curing
timethe
time for forsamples
the samples treated
treated with
with 1.5%,
1.5%, 2.5%and
2.5% and3%3%MC
MC and
and 4%
4% PC.
PC.

4.2. Effect
4.2. Effect of MC of MC
+ FA+ on
FA UC
on UC Strength
Strength
Stress–strain
Stress–strain curves,
curves, obtained
obtained from
from the
the UCUCtests,
tests,for
forvarious
various MC MC ++FA-treated
FA-treatedmixtures—M
mixtures—M xFyTF
x y Tz
z

where x = {1.5, 2.5}, y = {0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}—are provided in Figure
where x = {1.5, 2.5}, y = {0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}—are provided in Figure A2 in the A2 in
the Appendix section. Similar to the mixtures treated with MC alone (see Figure A1), the stress–strain
Appendix A section. Similar to the mixtures treated with MC alone (see Figure A1), the stress–strain
response for all MC + FA-treated mixtures exhibited a strain-softening behavior with visually
response for all MC + FA-treated mixtures exhibited a strain-softening behavior with visually detectable
detectable peak points, thus indicating brittle sample failures. In general, for any given MC content,
peak the
points, thus indicating brittle sample failures. In general, for any given MC content, the greater
greater the FA content and/or the longer the curing period, the more pronounced the strain-
the FA content and/or
softening effect, with the
Mlonger the curing period, the more pronounced the strain-softening effect,
c = 2.5% displaying a more pronounced strain-softening character (and hence
with M c = dramatic
more 2.5% displaying a more compared
sample failures) pronounced withstrain-softening
similar cases treated character
with M(and hence more dramatic
c = 1.5%.

sample failures) compared with similar cases treated with Mc = 1.5%.


Figure 5a,b illustrate the variations of peak UC strength against FA content for the samples treated
with Mc = 1.5% and 2.5% and tested at various curing times, respectively. At any given curing time,
Minerals 2019, 9, 22 9 of 19
Minerals 2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 19
Minerals 2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 19

Figures 5a
5a and 5b
5b illustrate the
the variations
the greaterFigures
the FA and
content illustrate
the higher the peakof
variations peak
ofUC UC
UC strength
peakstrength, strength against
against FA
following FA content
content for
a monotonically for the
the samples
samples
increasing
treated
treated with M c = 1.5% and 2.5% and tested at various curing times, respectively. At any given curing
trend, with with
all MMcc == 1.5%
2.5%and 2.5% and
blends testedaatnotable
holding various advantage
curing times,over respectively.
their McAt=any 1.5%given curing
counterparts.
time,
time, the
the greater
greater the
the FA
FA content
content the
the higher
higher the
the peak
peak UC
UC strength,
strength, following
following aa monotonically
monotonically
The samples
increasing
Mtrend,
1.5 F0 Twith
7 and MM 2.5 F0 T 7 , for instance, exhibited peak UC strengths of qM u ==272.1 kPa
increasing
and 375.5 kPa, trend, with all
respectively. Mcc ==M2.5%
all For 2.5% blends
blends holding
holding aa notable
notable advantage
advantage over
over their
theirthe 1.5%
Mcinclusion
c = 1.5%
counterparts.
counterparts. The The samples
samples M M1.5 F0T7 and M2.5F0T7, for instance, exhibited peak UC strengths of qu = of
c = 1.5% and the same 7-day curing condition,
1.5F0T7 and M2.5F0T7, for instance, exhibited peak UC strengths of qu =
0.5%,272.1
1%, kPa
1.5%, 2% and 2.5% FA resulted inMqcu ==1.5% 282.8 kPa, 292.8 kPa, 305.4 kPa, 313.9 kPa and
272.1 kPa andand 375.5
375.5 kPa,
kPa, respectively.
respectively. For For Mc = 1.5% and and the the same
same 7-day
7-day curing
curing condition,
condition, the the
320.7inclusion
kPa, respectively. Similar2% mix designs treated with M = 2.5%, however, promoted a higher peak
inclusion of
of 0.5%,
0.5%, 1%,
1%, 1.5%,
1.5%, 2% and and 2.5%
2.5% FA
FA resulted
resulted in in qquu ==c 282.8
282.8 kPa,
kPa, 292.8
292.8 kPa,
kPa, 305.4
305.4 kPa,
kPa, 313.9
313.9 kPa
kPa
UC strength,
and 320.7 kPa, respectively. Similar mix designs treated with Mc = 2.5%, however, promoted a higher kPa
and 320.7 as
kPa,the aforementioned
respectively. Similar values
mix increased
designs treated towith 384.4M c=kPa,
2.5%, 404.8 kPa,
however, 425.1
promoted kPa, a 429.3
higher
peak
peak UC
and 429.6 strength,
kPa,
UC as
as the
respectively.
strength, the aforementioned
Moreover, forvalues
aforementioned increased
any given
values increasedMC+FA to
to 384.4
384.4 kPa,
kPa, 404.8
content, kPa,
kPa, 425.1
an increase
404.8 425.1inkPa, 429.3
curing
kPa, 429.3time
kPa
promoted and
kPa and 429.6 kPa,
a significant respectively.
increase in the
429.6 kPa, respectively. Moreover,
peak UC
Moreover, for any
forstrength given
any given MC+FA
upMC+FA content,
to Tc =content,
56 days, an increase
anbeyond
increaseof in curing
inwhich time
curingmarginal
time
promoted
improvements a significant
promoted a were noted.
significant increase
increase in the
The inclusions peak
in the peak UCUC
of M strength
=
strength 2.5% up
up to
and
to T
T c = 56 days, beyond of which marginal
F= =
56 1.5%
days, at T
beyond =of7 days,
which for instance,
marginal
c c c c
improvements were noted. The inclusions of M == 2.5% and F
Fcc == 1.5%
improvements
resulted in qu = 425.1 were noted.
kPa, whileThe inclusions
higher values Mcc584.3
of of 2.5%kPa,and653.6 kPa, at
1.5% at T
Tcc ==kPa
671.7 77 days,
andfor
days, for instance,
instance,
695.1 kPa were
resulted
resulted in q u = 425.1 kPa, while higher values of 584.3 kPa, 653.6 kPa, 671.7 kPa and 695.1 kPa were
obtained for in
thequsame
= 425.1MC kPa, while
+ FA higher values
inclusion at 14, of28,584.3 kPa,128
56 and 653.6
days kPa,of671.7
curing,kParespectively.
and 695.1 kPa were
obtained
obtained for
for the
the same
same MC
MC ++ FA
FA inclusion
inclusion at
at 14,
14, 28,
28, 56
56 and
and 128
128 days
days of
of curing,
curing, respectively.
respectively.
490 770
490 770 Tc = 128 days
Tc = 128 days Tc = 128 days
460 Tc = 128 days 705 Tc = 56 days
(kPa)

(kPa)
460 705 Tc = 56 days
strength,ququ(kPa)

strength,ququ(kPa)
430 Tc = 56 days 640
430 Tc = 56 days 640
400 575
UCstrength,

400
UCstrength,
575
370 510 Tc = 14 days
370 Tc = 28 days 510 Tc = 14 days
Tc = 28 days Tc = 28 days
Tc = 28 days
340 445
340 445
PeakUC

PeakUC

Tc = 14 days Tc = 7 days
310 Tc = 14 days Tc = 7 days
380 Tc = 7 days
310 380
Peak

Peak

Tc = 7 days
280 315
280 315
250 250
250 250
-0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0
-0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0
(a)
(a) FA content, Fc (%) (b)
(b) FA content, Fc (%)
FA content, Fc (%) FA content, Fc (%)
Figure
Figure 5. Variations
5. Variations of peak
of peak UCUC strengthququagainst
strength against FAFA content
contentforforthe
thesamples
samplestested at various
tested curing
at various curing
Figure 5. Variations of peak UC strength qu against FA content for the samples tested at various curing
times:
times: (a) M(a) MF 1.5FyTz; (b) M2.5FyTz (y = {0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
T ; (b) M F T (y = {0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
times: (a)1.5My1.5FzyTz; (b) M2.52.5Fyy z (y = {0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).

Figure Figures
Figures 6a
6a and
and 6b
6a,b illustrate 6b theillustrate
variations
illustrate the
theofvariations of
of axial
axial strain
variations strain
at failure
axial strain at
at failure
against against
FA content
failure against for FA content
FA the for
for the
samples
content treated
the
samples
samples treated
treated with
with M
M c = 1.5% and 2.5% and tested at various curing times, respectively. The axial
= 1.5% and 2.5% and tested at various curing times, respectively. The axial
with Mc = 1.5% and 2.5% and tested at various curing times, respectively. The axial strain at failure,
c
strain
strain at at failure,
failure, an
an indication
indication of
of the material’s
material’s aductility,
the exhibited ductility, exhibited
exhibited aa trend
trend similar
similar to that
tothe observed
thatpeak
observed for
for
an indication of the material’s ductility, trend similar to that observed for UC strength;
the peak
the peak UC strength; however, in an adverse manner. In general, the greater the FA content and/or
however,
the
in anUC strength;
adverse manner. however, in an adverse
In general, manner.
the greater the InFAgeneral,
contentthe greater
and/or thethe FA content
longer and/or
the curing period,
the longer
longer thethe curing
curing period,
period, the the lower
lower the the sample’s
sample’s ductility,
ductility, with
with allall MMcc == 1.5%
1.5% blends
blends holding
holding aa
the lower
notable the sample’s ductility, with all Mtreated
c = 1.5% blends holding aThe notable advantage F0T7over
and similar
M2.5F0Tcases
notable advantage
advantage over over similar
similar cases
cases treated with with M Mcc == 2.5%.
2.5%. The samples
samples M M1.5
1.5F0T7 and M2.5F0T7
7
treated with
displayed M = 2.5%.
failure
c The
axial samples
strains of ε M
u =1.5 F
4.74%T and M
0 7 and 3.14%, F T displayed
2.5 0 respectively.
7 failure
As typicalaxial strains
cases, theseof εu = 4.74%
values,
displayed failure axial strains of εu = 4.74% and 3.14%, respectively. As typical cases, these values,
and 3.14%,
respectively,respectively. As typical andcases, these values,F1.5respectively,
T7 and M2.5F1.5dropped to 4.25% and and 2.62%
for for
respectively, droppeddropped to to 4.25%
4.25% and 2.62% 2.62% forfor M
M1.5 T7, and 2.05%
1.5F1.5T7 and M2.5F1.5T7, and 2.05% and 0.91% for
0.91%
M1.5 FM
M TF1.5and
1.51.5 M2.5M
T128 and
1.5F71.5T128 and MF1.5 T1.57 ,T
2.5F
2.5F1.5
128. 2.05% and 0.91% for M1.5 F1.5 T128 and M2.5 F1.5 T128 .
Tand
128.

5.3 3.7
5.3 Tc = 7 days 3.7
Tc = 7 days Tc = 14 days
4.7 Tc = 14 days 3.3 Tc = 7 days
))

))
(%

(%

4.7 3.3 Tc = 7 days


failure,εuεu(%

failure,εuεu(%

4.1 2.9
4.1 2.9
strainatatfailure,

strainatatfailure,

3.5 2.5
3.5 2.5 Tc = 28 days
2.9 2.1 Tc = 28 days
2.9 2.1 Tc = 14 days
Tc = 14 days
2.3 Tc = 28 days 1.7
Axialstrain

Axialstrain

Tc = 28 days Tc = 56 days
2.3 Tc = 56 days 1.7 Tc = 56 days
Tc = 56 days
1.7 1.3
1.7 Tc = 128 days 1.3
Axial

Axial

Tc = 128 days
1.1 0.9 Tc = 128 days
1.1 0.9 Tc = 128 days
0.5 0.5
0.5 0.5
-0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0
-0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0
(a)
(a) FA content, Fc (%) (b)
(b) FA content, Fc (%)
FA content, Fc (%) FA content, Fc (%)

Figure 6. Variations of axial strain at failure εu against FA content for the samples tested at various
curing times: (a) M1.5 Fy Tz ; (b) M2.5 Fy Tz (y = {0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
Minerals 2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 19
Minerals 2019, 9, 22 10 of 19
Minerals 2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 19
Figure 6. Variations of axial strain at failure εu against FA content for the samples tested at various
curing times: (a) M1.5FyTz; (b) M2.5FyTz (y = {0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
The Figure
peak strain energy,
6. Variations a measure
of axial of the εmaterial’s
strain at failure u against FAtoughness,
content for the was also tested
samples calculated for various
at various
MC + FA-treated mixtures,
curing times: (a) M1.5Fyand
Tz; (b)the
M2.5results
FyTz (y =are provided
{0, 0.5, in 2.5}
1.0, 1.5, 2.0, Figure
and z7.= Similar
{7, 14, 28,to
The peak strain energy, a measure of the material’s toughness, was also calculated for various56,the peak UC strength,
128}).
the improvement
MC + FA-treated in mixtures,
toughness andwas in favor
the results areof both the
provided FA content
in Figure andtothe
7. Similar thecuring
peak UC time, with all
strength,
Mc = the
2.5% The peak(see
blends strain energy,
Figure 7b) aholding
measureaof the material’s
notable advantagetoughness,
over was also
similar cases calculated
treated for various
with M
improvement in toughness was in favor of both the FA content and the curing time, with all M c=c =1.5%
MC + FA-treated mixtures, and the results are provided in Figure 7. Similar to the peak UC strength,
(see Figure 7a). As discussed in Section 4.1, the improvement in toughness
2.5% blends (see Figure 7b) holding a notable advantage over similar cases treated with Mc = 1.5% with respect to an increase
the improvement in toughness was in favor of both the FA content and the curing time, with all Mc =
(see Figure
in binder content 7a).and/or
As discussed
curingintimeSection
can4.1,
be the improvement
attributed to an in toughness
increase with
in the peak respect
UC to an increase
strength and/or
2.5% blends (see Figure 7b) holding a notable advantage over similar cases treated with Mc = 1.5%
in binder
the axial strain content
at and/or
failure. Thecuring
rise time
in can be
peak attributed
strain energy,to an increase
which, as in the peak UC strength
demonstrated in Figure and/or
7 was in
(see Figure 7a). As discussed in Section 4.1, the improvement in toughness with respect to an increase
the axial
favorinofbinder strain
a greater at failure.
MCand/or The
+ FA content rise in peak
and/or strain energy,
a attributed
longer curing which, as demonstrated in Figure 7 was in
content curing time can be to anperiod,
increaseindicates
in the peak that
UCthe improvement
strength and/or in
favor
qu dominates of a greater MC + FA content and/or a longer curing period, indicates that the improvement in
the exhibited
the axial strain at failure. reduction
The rise in in for allenergy,
εu strain
peak MC + FA mixasdesigns.
which, in FigureM71.5
The samples
demonstrated F0 Tin7 and
was
qu dominates the exhibited reduction in εu for all MC + FA3 mix designs. The 3 , samples M1.5F0T7 and
M2.5 Ffavor
T resulted in peak strain energies
0 7 of a greater MC + FA content and/or a longer of E u = 7.4curing period, indicates that the improvementtypical
kJ/m and 10.1 kJ/m respectively. As in
M2.5F0T7 resulted in peak strain energies of Eu = 7.4 kJ/m33 and 10.1 kJ/m3, 3respectively. As typical cases,
cases,quthese values,
dominates therespectively, increased
exhibited reduction in εto 8.9all
u for kJ/m
MC +and
FA 12.2
mix kJ/m
designs. for
The M F
samples T M 1.5F0M
and T and
7 2.5 F T ,
these values, respectively, increased
3 and in 3 for
to 8.9 kJ/m3 and 12.2 kJ/m3 for M1.5F1.5T7 and M2.5F1.5T7, and 15.61.5 7
1.5 1.5 7
M2.5FkJ/m
and 15.6 0T7 resulted 16.8peak
kJ/mstrain energies
M F of
1.5 1.5 E
T u = 7.4
128 andkJ/m
M 3 and 10.1 kJ/m3, respectively. As typical cases,
F T
2.5 1.5 128 .
kJ/m3 and 16.8 kJ/m3 for M1.5F1.5T128 and M2.5F 1.5T128.
these values, respectively, increased to 8.9 kJ/m3 and 12.2 kJ/m3 for M1.5F1.5T7 and M2.5F1.5T7, and 15.6
kJ/m3 and
20 16.8 kJ/m for M1.5F1.5T128 and M2.5F1.5T128.
3
20
Tc = 128 days
) /m3)

) /m3)
18 18 Tc = 128 days
20 20
Eu 3(kJ

Eu 3(kJ
Tc = 128 days Tc = 56 days
16 16 Tc = 128 days
, /m

, /m
18 Tc = 28 days 18
Tc = 56 days
, Eu (kJ

, Eu (kJ
Tc = 56 days Tc = 28 days
energy

energy
14
16 14
16
Tc = 56 days Tc = 28 days
12 12 Tc = 28 days
energy

energy

14 14
Peak strain

Peak strain

10
12 10
12 Tc = 7 days
Peak strain

Peak strain

108 Tc = 7 days 108 Tc = 14 days


Tc = 7 days
Tc = 14 days
86 Tc = 7 days 86 Tc = 14 days
-0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5
Tc = 14 days 2.0 2.5 3.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0
(a) 6
FA content, Fc (%) (b) 6
FA content, Fc (%)
-0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0
(a)Figure
Figure 7. Variations
7. Variations of peak
FA peak
of content, Fstrain
c (%)energy
strain
(b)FA
energyEEu against
against FA content
contentfor
forthe samples
FA
the content,tested
samples (%) at various
Fctested at various u
curing times: (a) M1.5FyTz; (b) M2.5FyTz (y = {0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
curing times:
Figure 7. (a) M1.5 Fy Tofz ;peak
Variations (b) Mstrain
2.5 Fy Tz (y = {0,
energy 0.5, 1.0,FA
Eu against 1.5,content
2.0, 2.5} thezsamples
forand = {7, 14,tested
28, 56,at128}).
various
curing times: (a) M1.5FyTz; (b) M2.5FyTz (y = {0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
Figures 8a and 8b illustrate the variations of elastic stiffness modulus E50 against FA content for
Figure 8a,b illustrate the variations of elastic stiffness modulus E50 against FA content for the
the samples treated with Mc = 1.5% and 2.5% and tested at various curing times, respectively. In
samples treated 8a andM8b
Figures with c =illustrate
1.5% and the2.5% and tested
variations at various
of elastic stiffnesscuring
modulus times, respectively.
E50 against In general,
FA content for
general, the elastic stiffness modulus demonstrated a trend similar to that observed for the peak UC
the samples
the elastic treated
stiffness with M
modulus c = 1.5% and 2.5%
demonstrated a trendandsimilar
tested atto various curing times,
that observed for therespectively. In
peak UC strength
strength and the peak strain energy. The greater the FA content and/or the longer the curing period,
general,
and the peak the elastic
strain stiffness
energy. Themodulus
greater demonstrated
the FA content a trend
and/or similar
the to that the
longer observed
curing for the peak
period, the UChigher
the higher the developed stiffness, with all Mc = 2.5% blends outperforming similar cases treated with
strength and the peakwith
strain energy. The greater the FA content and/or thecases
longer the curing
withperiod,
the developed
Mc = 1.5%. stiffness,
The samples 1.5FM
Mall = 2.5%
0T7c and M2.5blends outperforming
F0T7 resulted in E50 = 17.7similar
MPa and 25.1treated Mc = 1.5%.
MPa, respectively.
the higher the developed stiffness, with all Mc = 2.5% blends outperforming similar cases treated with
The samples
As typical M1.5 F0 T7these
cases, M2.5 F0 T
and values, 7 resulted in
respectively, E50 = 17.7
increased to MPa
24.5 MPaand and
25.1 28.4
MPa, MParespectively. As
for M1.5F1.5T typical
7 and
Mc = 1.5%. The samples M1.5F0T7 and M2.5F0T7 resulted in E50 = 17.7 MPa and 25.1 MPa, respectively.
cases,Mthese
2.5F1.5Tvalues,
7, and 44.1respectively,
MPa and 66.4 increased
MPa for M to1.524.5 MPa
F1.5T128 andand
M2.5F28.4 MPa
1.5T128. for M1.5 F1.5 T7 and M2.5 F1.5 T7 ,
As typical cases, these values, respectively, increased to 24.5 MPa and 28.4 MPa for M1.5F1.5T7 and
and 44.1 MPa and 66.4 MPa for M1.5 F1.5 T128 and M2.5 F1.5 T128 .
M2.5F1.5T
557, and 44.1 MPa and 66.4 MPa for M1.5F1.5T128 and 95
M2.5F1.5T128.
E50 (MPa)

E50 (MPa)

Tc = 128 days Tc = 128 days


50 85
55 95
E50 (MPa)

E50 (MPa)

Tc = 56 days
45 Tc = 128 days 75 Tc = 128 days
50 85
modulus,

modulus,

Tc = 56 days T = 28 days
40 Tc = 56 days 65 c
45 Tc = 28 days 75
Tc = 14 days
modulus,

modulus,

35 55 Tc = 56 days Tc = 28 days
40 65
Tc = 28 days
stiffness

stiffness

30 45 Tc = 14 days
35 55
Tc = 7 days
stiffness

25
stiffness

35
30 45
ElasticElastic

ElasticElastic

20 Tc = 7 days 25
25 Tc = 14 days 35 Tc = 7 days

15 Tc = 7 days 15
20 Tc = 14 days 25
-0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0
(a) 15
FA content, Fc (%) (b) 15
FA content, Fc (%)
-0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0
(a) FA content, Fc (%) (b) FA content, Fc (%)

Figure 8. Variations of elastic stiffness modulus E50 against FA content for the samples tested at various
curing times: (a) M1.5 Fy Tz ; (b) M2.5 Fy Tz (y = {0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
Minerals 2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 11 of 19

Minerals 2019, 9,
Figure 8.22Variations of elastic stiffness modulus E50 against FA content for the samples tested at
11 of 19
various curing times: (a) M1.5FyTz; (b) M2.5FyTz (y = {0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).

Figure 9a,b illustrate the variations of Eu and E50 against qu for various MC + FA-treated mixtures,
Figures 9a and 9b illustrate the variations of Eu and E50 against qu for various MC + FA-treated
respectively. The variations of Eu lies within the 0.027qu < Eu < 0.039qu and 0.021qu < Eu < 0.030qu
mixtures, respectively. The variations of Eu lies within the 0.027qu < Eu < 0.039qu and 0.021qu < Eu <
3 , and q in kPa) for the samples treated with M = 1.5% and 2.5%, respectively.
domains (Eu in kJ/m
0.030qu domains (Eu in kJ/mu3, and qu in kPa) for the samples treated c with Mc = 1.5% and 2.5%,
For E 50 , however,
respectively. the forms of 0.056qu < E
For E50, however, wider domains in the forms of500.056qu < uEand
wider domains in < 0.111q 0.064qu < E50 < 0.095qu
50 < 0.111qu and 0.064qu < E50
(E
< 50 in MPa, and
0.095qu (E50 in MPa, qu in kPa)
and qu in kPa) can be observed, respectively. For any content,
can be observed, respectively. For any given MC given MC thecontent,
variations
the
of Eu and Eof
variations both
50 E exhibited good correlations with qu . In this case, simple correlative models in
u and E50 both exhibited good correlations with qu. In this case, simple correlative
the forms
models theEforms
in of u = 0.033q
of Euu =(with
0.033qRu2 (with
= 0.814)
R2 =and E50and
0.814) = 0.085q u (with
E50 = 0.085q R2 = 0.641) can be obtained for
u (with R2 = 0.641) can be obtained
Mforc =
M1.5%. For the samples treated with Mc = 2.5%, the correlations changed to Eu = 0.024qu (with
c = 1.5%. For the samples treated with Mc = 2.5%, the correlations changed to Eu = 0.024qu (with
R 2 = 0.708) and E = 0.078q (with R2 = 0.667), which strongly indicate a lower rate of increase in both
R2 = 0.708) and E50 u
50 = 0.078qu (with R2 = 0.667), which strongly indicate a lower rate of increase in both
EEuu and E
and E50 with respect to an increase in qu .
50 with respect to an increase in qu.

20 80

Elastic stiffness modulus, E50 (MPa)


E50 = 0.085 qu
Peak strain energy, Eu (kJ/m3)

18 Eu = 0.033 qu 70 [R2 = 0.641]


[R2 = 0.814] E50 = 0.078 qu
16 60
[R2 = 0.667]
14 Eu = 0.024 qu 50
[R2 = 0.708]
12 40

10 30
1.5% MC + FA 1.5% MC + FA
8 20
2.5% MC + FA 2.5% MC + FA
6 10
200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900
(a) Peak UC strength, qu (kPa) (b) Peak UC strength, qu (kPa)

Figure 9.
Figure 9. Variations
Variations ofof (a)
(a) peak
peakstrain
strainenergy
energyEEuu and
and (b)
(b) elastic
elastic stiffness
stiffnessmodulus
modulusEE5050 against
against peak
peak UCUC
strength q for various MC + FA-treated mixtures (i.e., M F T where x = {1.5, 2.5}, y = {0,
strength qu for various MC + FA-treated mixtures (i.e., Mx Fy Tz where x = {1.5, 2.5}, y = {0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5,
u x y z 0.5, 1.0, 1.5,
2.0, 2.5}
2.0, 2.5} and
and zz == {7,
{7, 14,
14, 28,
28, 56,
56, 128}).
128}).

As isisevident
As evidentfrom fromthe the data
data outlined
outlined in Figure
in Figure 5, peak
5, the the peak UC strength
UC strength for various
for various MC + FA-
MC + FA-treated
treated mixtures—M
mixtures—M x Fy Tz wherexFyTz x where
= {1.5,x 2.5},
= {1.5, y =2.5},
{0.5,y 1.0,
= {0.5,
1.5,1.0,
2.0,1.5,
2.5}2.0,
and 2.5}
z =and z = 28,
{7, 14, {7, 56,
14, 128}—ranges
28, 56, 128}—
ranges between
between 282.8 kPa 282.8
(for kPa
M1.5 F(for
0.5 T 7M
) 1.5
and F0.5T 7) and
743.4 kPa743.4
(for M kPa
2.5 F(for M2.5
2.5 T 128 ), Fand
2.5T128 ), and
thus thus unanimously
unanimously satisfies
satisfies
the the requirement
requirement for eliminating
for eliminating liquefaction, liquefaction,
i.e., 150 <i.e., 150 < q<u 300.
qu (kPa) (kPa)Similar
< 300. to Similar to the samples
the samples treated
treated
with MC with MC alone,
alone, none of none
theof the tested
tested MC + MC FA+ FA
mixmix designs
designs meet meet thethe prerequisitefor
prerequisite forroof
roofsupport
support
applications,i.e.,
applications, i.e.,qquu >> 4000
4000 kPa.
kPa. With
Withregard
regardto tostope
stopestability,
stability,the thesamples
samplesMM FF
2.52.5 TT2828 (q
2.0
2.0 (quu == 701.6 kPa)
and M
and M2.5
2.5F2.5
2.5TT2828(q(q
uu= =714.4
714.4kPa)
kPa)well
wellcomply
complywith withthetheminimum
minimum700 700 kPakPa (at(at Tcc ==28 28days)
days) requirement,
requirement,
and thus
and thus are are deemed
deemed totobe besustainable
sustainablealternatives
alternativesfor forMM F
3.0 FT
0
3.0 0 28 T 28 (q
(q uu = 719.3 kPa).
kPa). As surface
for surface
disposal applications
disposal applications and and general
general construction
construction practices
practices (ASTM
(ASTM D4609–08),
D4609–08), all MC MC ++ FA-treated
FA-treated
mixtures, excluding
mixtures, excluding M M1.5
1.5FyyT
T77where
whereyy=={0.5, {0.5,1.0,
1.0,1.5,
1.5,2.0,
2.0,2.5},
2.5},well
wellsatisfy
satisfythe theqquu>>345 345kPa kPacriterion.
criterion.

4.3.
4.3. Amending Mechanisms and Fabric Evolution
In
In the
the presence
presence of of water,
water, calcium-rich
calcium-rich binders
binders such
such asas MC
MC actact as
as aa precursor
precursor agent,
agent, initiating
initiating aa
series of short/immediate- and
series of short/immediate- and long-termlong-term chemical reactions in the tailings–binder medium, thereby
amending
amending the tailings
tailings fabric
fabric into
into aa unitary
unitary mass
mass of
ofenhanced
enhancedmechanical
mechanical performance.
performance. Short-term
Short-term
chemical
chemical reactions
reactions include
include cation
cation exchange
exchange and
and flocculation–agglomeration,
flocculation–agglomeration, the amending amending roles of of
which
which are
are often
often limited
limited withwith respect
respect toto neutrally
neutrally charged particles such as sands, silts and tailings.
For
For fine-grained
fine-grained soils
soils containing
containing notable fractions of negatively charged clay particles; however,
short-term
short-termreactions
reactionsleadleadtotonotable
notableimprovements
improvements in in
soilsoil
plasticity, workability,
plasticity, workability,earlyearly
age strength and
age strength
swell–consolidation
and swell–consolidation capacity [39,51–53].
capacity Long-term
[39,51–53]. chemical
Long-term reactionsreactions
chemical consist ofconsist
pozzolanic reactions,
of pozzolanic
which are strongly
reactions, which are time- and often
strongly temperature-dependent;
time- their commencement
and often temperature-dependent; their and evolution require
commencement and
aevolution
specific and oftena long period 2+
require specific andof curing.
often longDuring
periodpozzolanic reactions,
of curing. During calcium cations
pozzolanic (Cacalcium
reactions, ) and
hydroxide anions (OH− ), both released from the cementitious binder, or in this case MC, gradually react
Minerals 2019, 9, 22 12 of 19

with silicate (SiO2 ) and aluminate (Al2 O3 ) units from the tailings, thereby resulting in the formation of
cementation products/gels, i.e., Calcium–Silicate–Hydrates (C–S–H), Calcium–Aluminate–Hydrates
(C–A–H) and Calcium–Aluminate–Silicate–Hydrates (C–A–S–H), which encourage solidification and
flocculation of the tailings particles and hence the development of a uniform, dense matrix coupled
with enhanced strength performance [39,53,54]. Quite clearly, the commencement and evolution of
pozzolanic reactions are strongly dependent on the amount of available silicate and aluminate units (or
pozzolan materials) in the matrix. In general, the greater the number of available silicate and aluminate
units, the greater the number of developed cementation products and hence the higher the developed
peak UC strength.
As demonstrated in Figure 4, the performance of 4% PC was found to be on par with that of 1.5% MC,
while the higher MC inclusions of 2.5% and 3% unanimously outperformed 4% PC in terms of both strength
and stiffness. Such observations can be attributed to the more dominant self–hardening features exhibited
by MC compared with that of PC. Calcium hydroxide or Ca(OH)2 is a by-product of PC hydration during
the pozzolanic reactions stage; however, it does not contribute to further strength development, owing to
the lack of any remaining silicate and aluminate units in the medium which are normally exhausted during
PC hydration. When slag-blended cement or MC is used as the main cementitious binder, the additional
silicate and aluminate units in slag particles gradually react with Ca(OH)2 and water, thereby resulting in
the formation of additional cementation products as part of secondary pozzolanic reactions which further
densify the matrix and hence enhance the peak UC strength.
Common fly ash additives, or in this case FA, often contain a low content of calcium oxide (CaO),
and as such, possess limited self-hardening features; such additives require activation by a calcium-rich
binder, e.g., PC or MC, to encourage pozzolanic reactions [54]. Unlike tailings, which are rather poor
in terms of aluminate (see Table 2), FA is dominated by large fractions of silicate and, particularly,
aluminate. As such, the addition of FA, alongside MC as its activator, induces the development of
pozzolanic reactions (or cementation products) in the matrix, which in turn leads to an improved peak
UC strength compared with similar MC inclusions containing no FA.
Figure 10a–c illustrates SEM micrographs for the samples M0 F0 T7 (pure tailings), M2.5 F0 T7 and
M2.5 F0 T28 , respectively. The micro-fabric of the pure tailings sample displayed a partly loose matrix,
along with a notable number of large inter- and intra-assemblage pore-spaces, respectively, formed
between and within the tailings aggregates, thereby corroborating the existence of an edge-to-edge
dispersed structure (see Figure 10a). For the sample M2.5 F0 T7 , as shown in Figure 10b, the micro-fabric
became more uniform in nature, indicating aggregation of the tailings particles and hence the
development of a dense matrix with an edge-to-face flocculated structure. Prevalent cementation
products, i.e., C–S–H, C–A–H and C–A–S–H, were clearly visible between and within the tailings
aggregates, which portrayed a major role in reducing the number of inter- and intra-assemblage
pore-spaces in the matrix. The same 2.5% MC inclusion at 28 days of curing (or sample M2.5 F0 T28 )
exhibited a micro-fabric similar to that observed for M2.5 F0 T7 (compare Figure 10b,c). In this
case, however, a more pronounced cementation bonding was evident, which in turn promoted
a slightly denser matrix with fewer pore-spaces followed by a higher developed strength and
stiffness, i.e., the peak UC strength increased from 375.5 kPa for M2.5 F0 T7 to 510.6 kPa for M2.5 F0 T28 .
SEM micrographs for the samples M2.5 F1.5 T7 and M2.5 F1.5 T28 are provided in Figure 10d,e, respectively.
In general, the samples M2.5 F1.5 T7 and M2.5 F1.5 T28 displayed micro-fabric features similar to that
observed for their Fc = 0 counterparts, i.e., M2.5 F0 T7 and M2.5 F0 T28 . However, as a result of FA
inclusion, the bonding/connection interface generated between the tailings aggregates was markedly
improved. Moreover, the inter- and intra-assemblage pore-spaces displayed a notable decrease in both
number and size, which all in all justify the increase in strength and stiffness compared with similar
cases containing no FA, e.g., the peak UC strength increased from 510.6 kPa for M2.5 F0 T28 to 653.6 kPa
for M2.5 F1.5 T28 .
Minerals 2019, 9, 22 13 of 19

Minerals 2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 13 of 19

(a)

(b) (c)

(d) (e)

Figure
Figure 10.10. SEMSEM micrographs
micrographs for for the
the tested
tested samples: (a)MM
samples: (a) F T7 (pure
0F00T07 (pure
tailings);
tailings); (b)(b) MF2.5
M2.5 F T7 ;
0T7;0 (c)
(c) M 2.5 F0 T 28 ; (d) M2.5 F 1.5 T 7 ; (e)
M2.5F0T28; (d) M2.5F1.5T7; (e) M2.5F1.5T28. M 2.5 F1.5 T 28 .

5. Conclusions
5. Conclusions
The following conclusions can be drawn from this study:
The following conclusions can be drawn from this study:
• The greater the MCMC content
content and/or the longer
and/or the longer the curing period, the higher the developed
strength, toughness and stiffness, with the former, the MC content, portraying a more significant
role.
role. The exhibited
exhibited improvements;
improvements;however,
however,were
wereonly
onlynotable
notableupup
toto
5656
days of of
days curing, beyond
curing, of
beyond
of which the effect of curing was found to be marginal. The axial strain at failure, an indication
Minerals 2018,
2019, 8,
9, x
22FOR PEER REVIEW 14 of 19

of the material’s ductility, demonstrated a trend similar to that observed for the strength,
which
toughnessthe effect of curing
and stiffness; was found
however, to adverse
in an be marginal.
manner.The axial strain at failure, an indication of
 The performance of 4% PC was found to be similar tothat
the material’s ductility, demonstrated a trend similar to thatobserved
of 1.5% MC, for the strength,
while toughness
the higher MC
and stiffness;
inclusions however,
of 2.5% in anthough
and 3%, adverse manner.
lower in terms of binder content, consistently outperformed
• ThePC
4% performance
in terms ofof 4% strength
both PC was found to be similar
and stiffness. As such, to that of 1.5%introduced
the newly MC, whilebinder,
the higher
MC, MCcan
inclusions
be regarded ofas2.5% and 3%, though
a sustainable lowerfor
alternative inconventional
terms of binder PC.content, consistently outperformed
 4% PC
The useinofterms of both strength
FA alongside MC improved and stiffness. As such, the newly
the bonding/connection introduced
interface binder,between
generated MC, canthebe
regarded as a sustainable alternative for conventional PC.
tailings aggregates, and thus led to improved mechanical performance compared with similar
• The use
MC of FA alongside
inclusions containing MC noimproved
FA. For any the given
bonding/connection
MC content, theinterface
greater generated between
the FA content the
and/or
tailings aggregates, and thus led to improved mechanical performance
the longer the curing period, the higher the developed strength, toughness and stiffness up to compared with similar
MCdays
56 inclusions containing
of curing, beyondno of FA.
whichFor the
anyeffect
givenofMC content,
curing wasthe greater
found to be the FA content
marginal. and/or the
Similarly, for
longer
any the curing
given period, an
FA content, theincrease
higher the indeveloped
MC content strength, toughness
promoted higher and stiffness upproperties.
mechanical to 56 days
of curing, beyond
However, of which
in all cases, the effect ofductility
the material’s curing waswasfound to be affected
adversely marginal. bySimilarly,
the MC +forFA any given
content
FA content,
and/or curingantime.
increase in MC content promoted higher mechanical properties. However, in all
 cases, the material’s
Common strength ductility
criteria was for adversely
cemented affected
paste by the MCwere
backfills + FA content
considered and/orto curing
assess time.
the
• applicability
Common strength of thecriteria
newlyfor introduced
cemented pasteMC and MC +were
backfills FA considered
mix designs. With regard
to assess to stope
the applicability
stability,
of the newlyfor instance,
introduced theMCmix anddesigns
MC + M F0T28designs.
FA3.0mix , M2.5F2.0With
T28 and M2.5Fto2.5stope
regard T28 satisfied thefor
stability, minimum
instance,
700 kPa designs
the mix threshold, M3.0and
F0 Tthus
28 , Mwere deemed
2.5 F2.0 T28 andas Moptimum design choices.
2.5 F2.5 T 28 satisfied the minimum 700 kPa threshold,
and thus were deemed as optimum design choices.
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, Y.Z., A.T. and A.D.; Methodology, Y.Z., A.S. and A.T.; Validation,
Author
Y.Z. andContributions: Conceptualization,
A.S.; Formal analysis, Y.Z.,
Y.Z. and A.S.; A.T. and A.D.;
Investigation, Methodology,
Y.Z.; Y.Z., A.S.
Writing—original andpreparation,
draft A.T.; Validation, Y.Z.
Y.Z. and
and A.S.;
A.S.; Formal analysis,
Writing—review and Y.Z. and A.T.,
editing, A.S.; Investigation,
M.K. and A.D.;Y.Z.; Writing—original
Visualization, draft preparation,
A.S.; Supervision, Y.Z.and
A.T., M.K. andA.D.;
A.S.;
Writing—review and editing, A.T., M.K. and A.D.; Visualization, A.S.; Supervision, A.T., M.K. and A.D.; Funding
Funding acquisition,
acquisition, A.T. and M.K.
A.T. and M.K.
Funding:
Funding: This
This research
research was
was partially
partially funded
funded by
by Mining
Mining Education
Education Australia
Australia (MEA)
(MEA) and
and OZ
OZMinerals,
Minerals,Australia;
Australia;
their support is gratefully acknowledged.
Conflicts of
Conflicts Interest: The
of Interest: The authors
authors declare
declare no
no conflict
conflict of
of interest.
interest.

Appendix A
Appendix
Stress–strain curves,
Stress–strain curves,obtained
obtained from thethe
from UC UCtests,tests,
for various MC-treated
for various mixtures—M
MC-treated x Fy Tz where
mixtures—M xFyTz
x = {1.5, 2.5, 3.0}, y = {0} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}—are provided in Figure A1.
where x = {1.5, 2.5, 3.0}, y = {0} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}—are provided in Figure A1.

450 7 days 750 7 days


14 days 14 days
375 28 days 625 28 days
Axial stress, σa (kPa)

Axial stress, σa (kPa)

56 days 56 days
128 days 128 days
300 500

225 375

150 250

75 125

0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
(a) Axial strain, εa (%) (b) Axial strain, εa (%)

Figure A1. Cont.


Minerals 2019, 9, 22 15 of 19
Minerals 2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 15 of 19
Minerals 2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 15 of 19

900 7 days
900 7 days
14 days
14 days
750 28 days
750 28 days

a (kPa)
56 days

stress,σaσ(kPa)
56 days
128 days
600 128 days
600

450

Axialstress,
450

300
300
Axial 150
150

0
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
(c)
(c) Axial strain, εa (%)
Axial strain, εa (%)
Figure A1. A1. UC stress–strain
stress–strain curves for
for variousMC-treated
MC-treated mixtures:(a)
(a) M FF00TTzz;; (b)
(b) M
M2.5
2.5F 0Tzz;; (c)
Figure A1. UC UC stress–straincurvescurves forvarious mixtures: (a)MM
various MC-treatedmixtures: 1.51.5
1.5F 0T z; (b) M
(c)
2.5F00Tz; (c)
M3.0FF00TTz z(z(z= ={7,{7,14,
3.0 28,
14, 56,
28, 128}).
56, 128}).
M3.0F0Tz (z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).

Stress–strain curves, obtained


obtained from
from the
the UC
UC tests,
tests, for
for various
various MCMC ++ FA-treated mixtures—MxFFyT z
FA-treatedmixtures—M
Stress–strain curves, obtained from the UC tests, for various MC + FA-treated mixtures—Mx xFyyTzz
where x = {1.5, 2.5}, y == {0.5,
{0.5, 1.0,
1.0, 1.5,
1.5, 2.0,
2.0, 2.5} and zz == {7,
2.5} and {7, 14,
14, 28,
28, 56,
56, 128}—are
128}—are provided
provided in
in Figure
Figure A2.
where x = {1.5, 2.5}, y = {0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5} and z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}—are provided in Figure A2.
450 7 days 450 7 days
450 7 days 450 7 days
14 days 14 days
14 days 14 days
375 28 days 375 28 days
375 28 days 375 28 days
a (kPa)

a (kPa)

56 days 56 days
stress,σaσ(kPa)

stress,σaσ(kPa)

56 days 56 days
128 days 128 days
300 128 days 300 128 days
300 300

225 225
Axialstress,

Axialstress,

225 225

150 150
150 150
Axial

Axial

75 75
75 75

0 0
0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
(a)
(a) Axial strain, εa (%) (b)
(b) Axial strain, εa (%)
Axial strain, εa (%) Axial strain, εa (%)
540 7 days 540 7 days
540 7 days 540 7 days
14 days 14 days
14 days 14 days
450 28 days 450 28 days
450 28 days 450 28 days
a (kPa)

a (kPa)

56 days 56 days
stress,σaσ(kPa)

stress,σaσ(kPa)

56 days 56 days
128 days 128 days
360 128 days 360 128 days
360 360

270 270
Axialstress,

Axialstress,

270 270

180 180
180 180
Axial

Axial

90 90
90 90

0 0
0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
(c)
(c) Axial strain, εa (%) (d)
(d) Axial strain, εa (%)
Axial strain, εa (%) Axial strain, εa (%)

Figure A2. Cont.


Minerals 2019, 9, 22 16 of 19

Minerals 2018, 8, x FOR PEER REVIEW 16 of 19

540 7 days 750 7 days


14 days 14 days
450 28 days 625 28 days
Axial stress, σa (kPa)

Axial stress, σa (kPa)


56 days 56 days
128 days 128 days
360 500

270 375

180 250

90 125

0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
(e) Axial strain, εa (%) (f) Axial strain, εa (%)

750 7 days 750 7 days


14 days 14 days
625 28 days 625 28 days
Axial stress, σa (kPa)

Axial stress, σa (kPa)


56 days 56 days
128 days 128 days
500 500

375 375

250 250

125 125

0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
(g) Axial strain, εa (%) (h) Axial strain, εa (%)

750 7 days 750 7 days


14 days 14 days
625 28 days 625 28 days
Axial stress, σa (kPa)

Axial stress, σa (kPa)

56 days 56 days
128 days 128 days
500 500

375 375

250 250

125 125

0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
(i) Axial strain, εa (%) (j) Axial strain, εa (%)

Figure
Figure A2. A2. UC UC stress–strain
stress–straincurvescurvesforforvarious
variousMC MC+ +FA-treated
FA-treated mixtures:
mixtures: (a)(a) M1.5
M1.5 F0.5TT
F0.5 z; (b) M1.5F1.0Tz;
z ; (b) M1.5 F1.0 Tz ;
(c) M
(c) M1.5 F1.5
1.5F 1.5T
Tzz; ; (d) M1.5
(d) M 1.5F
F2.0TTz; ;(e)
2.0 z (e) M
M 1.5FF
2.5TzT
1.5 2.5 z
; (f)
; (f)MM2.5F0.5
F T
2.5 0.5 z
;
zT (g)
; M
(g) 2.5F1.0
M F T z;T(h)
2.5 1.0 z ; M
(h) 2.5F1.5
M T z; T(i) M2.5F2.0Tz; (j)
2.5 1.5 z ; (i) M2.5 F2.0 Tz ;
F
M F T (z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
(j) M2.5 F2.5 Tz (z = {7, 14, 28, 56, 128}).
2.5 2.5 z

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