As part of research conducted in its mission to effect pollution abatement, the Bureau of Mines is developing a dewatering technique that allows for disposal of mineral wastes, for reuse of water now lost with these wastes, and for reclamation of mined land. The technique utilizes a high-molecular-weight nonionic polyethylene oxide polymer that has the ability to flocculate and dewater materials containing clay wastes. A variety of different clay wastes have been successfully dewatered in laboratory experiments. Coal-clay waste was consolidated from 4 to 57 wt-pct, potash-clay brine waste from 20 to 62 wt-pct, phosphatic-clay waste from 16 to 49 wt-pct, uranium mill tailings from 15 to 67 wt-pct, and talc tailings from 10 to 53 wt-pct. The consolidated materials can be handled by mechanical devices such as trucks and conveyors for disposal in mined-out areas.
1980 Symp. on Surface Mining Hydrology, Sedimentology and Reclamation, Dec. 1980, PP. 249-253