Dr Robert Cooke, a founding member of Paterson & Cooke, will be presenting the following paper at TAILINGS 2018 in Santiago, Chile 11 – 13 July 2018:

Developments in Tailings Pipeline Transportation

Robert Cooke and Joshua Stowe
Paterson & Cooke, USA


This paper reviews recent developments in the design and implementation of tailings pipeline transportation systems. The discussion focuses on pipeline operation with a stationary bed, pipeline operation in laminar flow, bed height detection instrumentation and leak detection systems.

The conventional slurry pipeline design approach is to select a pipeline diameter which ensures the pipeline operates in turbulent flow without a deposit for all expected operating conditions. Recent improvements in the understanding of slurry pipeline flows allows for the design of pipelines operating with a deposit on the pipe invert. Designing for the formation of a deposit at low flow rates allows the system to operate at moderate velocities for high flow rates, optimizing system energy requirements and maximizing pipeline wear life.

Tailings pipelines are increasingly operated at higher solids concentrations where there is a greater likelihood the pipeline will operate in laminar flow due to the higher tailings rheology. Historically slurry pipelines have been operated in turbulent flow but we now know that laminar flow pipeline operation is possible as there are several operational laminar flow tailings pipelines. While our understanding of laminar flow slurry pipelines is not complete, recent research provides guidance on how to approach the design of these pipelines.

New sensor technology has led to the development of an instrument that provides reliable indication of bed deposit height within a pipeline. This technology is particularly helpful in operating pipelines with a deposit and has application in better understanding the operation of laminar flow pipelines.
Failure of tailings pipelines can result in consequent damage to surrounding structures and unacceptable spillage into the environment. Modern pipeline leak detection technology allows operators to better manage this risk by ensuring safe and reliable operation of tailings pipelines.

Find out more about the TAILINGS 2018 seminar