University of Oulu

A. Tuomela, V. Pekkala, A. Rauhala, A. Torabi Haghighi, P. Leviäkangas, Frost susceptibility of Nordic metal mine tailings, Cold Regions Science and Technology, Volume 192, 2021, 103394, ISSN 0165-232X,

Frost susceptibility of Nordic metal mine tailings

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Author: Tuomela, A.1; Pekkala, V.1; Rauhala, A.1;
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Structures and Construction Technology, P.O. Box 4300, 90014, University of Oulu, Finland
2University of Oulu, Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering, P.O. Box 4300, 90014, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-10-11


The mining industry produces significant amounts of waste materials, with the greatest volumes generated during enrichment. These waste materials or by-products, tailings, may be used as alternative civil engineering materials, reducing the need for natural resources. In cold climates, the frost behaviour of materials is one critical functional requirement in civil engineering applications. The frost behaviour of tailings classified as sand, silty sand, or sandy clayey silt (EN ISO), from four metal mines located in northern Finland and Sweden, was evaluated in this study using basic laboratory characterisation and one-dimensional freezing tests. The laboratory results were compared with existing guidelines on estimating the frost susceptibility of natural soils. Based on grain size distribution, the tailings samples were characterised as non-susceptible or frost-susceptible. Capillary rise values indicated that the frost susceptibility of the samples ranged from negligible to strong. In the one-dimensional frost heave test, measured frost heave after 96 h was 0.1–23.1 mm and calculated segregation potential (SP) was 0–9.7 mm²/Kh. Based on the frost heave test, the frost susceptibility of the samples ranged from low to strong. The results indicated that the finest samples classified as sandy clayey silt (L1−L3) generated the majority measured amount of frost heave and were classified as frost-susceptible material. The coarser tailings samples (K1-K3 and AK1) classified as sand or silty sand were classified non-susceptible, and measured frost heave amounts were low <1.0 mm (after 96 h). Thus, the tailings samples behaved like natural soils, indicating that classification methods developed for natural soils are valid for evaluation of the frost susceptibility of mine tailings. However, the influence of added reagents should be considered, and standardised frost behaviour methods should be developed.

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Series: Cold regions science and technology
ISSN: 0165-232X
ISSN-E: 1872-7441
ISSN-L: 0165-232X
Volume: 192
Pages: 1 - 9
DOI: 10.1016/j.coldregions.2021.103394
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 216 Materials engineering
218 Environmental engineering
212 Civil and construction engineering
Funding: This research was funded and supported by Maa- ja Vesitekniikan tuki r.y, K. H. Renlunds foundation and Tauno Tönning foundation. The authors would like to acknowledge the support received from the personnel at the Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering and Structures and Construction Technology research units at the University of Oulu, especially MSc Jenna Colpaert, MSc Toni Sievola and Laboratory Engineer Tuomo Pitkänen.
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (