Flocculated unclassified tailings settling efficiency improvement by particle collision optimization in the feedwell

Huazhe Jiao, Weilin Chen, Aixiang Wu, Yang Yu, Zhuen Ruan, Rick Honaker, Xinming Chen, Jianxin Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Efficient thickening of tailings is a prerequisite for the metal mine tailings backfill and surface disposal operation. The effective collision of ultrafine tailings particles in suspension with flocculant molecules is essential for flocs aggregates formation and settling. Unreasonable feeding speed and flocculant adding method will lead to the failure of effective dispersion of flocculant and high particle content in thickener overflow. In this work, the effect of turbulence intensity and flocculant adding method on floc size, strength, and movement characteristics are analysed. Aiming to solve the turbidity increased, a pilot-scale continuous thickening test was carried out. Taking a single particle and multiple flocs of full tailings as the research object, the particle iterative settlement model of flocs was established. The influence of turbulence intensity on collision effect is studied by tracking and simulating particle trajectory. The results show that in the process of single particle settlement, chaos appears in the iterative process owing to particle adhesion which caused by micro action. When the turbulence intensity is 25.99%, the maximum particle size of tailings floc is 6.21 mm and the maximum sedimentation rate is 5.284 cm·s−1. The tailings floc presents a multi-scale structure of particle-force chain system when hindered settling, and the interweaving of strong and weak force chains constitutes the topological structure of particles. The results are applied to a thicker in plant, the flocculant addition mode and feed rate are optimized, and the flocs settling speed and overflow clarity are improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2126-2135
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Minerals, Metallurgy and Materials
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51834001).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, University of Science and Technology Beijing.


  • flocculation settling rate
  • flocs micro-structure
  • thickener feedwell
  • turbulence intensity
  • unclassified tailings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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