Characterization of lead–zinc mill tailings, fly ash and their mixtures for paste backfilling in underground metalliferous mines

  • Santosh Kumar BeheraEmail author
  • D. P. Mishra
  • C. N. Ghosh
  • Prashant
  • P. K. Mandal
  • K. M. P. Singh
  • J. Buragohain
  • P. K. Singh
Original Article


Surface disposal of mill tailings and fly ash is a major concern for many countries, as it pollutes the environment including air, water, and soil. Paste backfilling is an emerging mine backfilling technique, wherein the industrial wastes such as mill tailings, fly ash and blast furnace slag are backfilled inside the stopes. This study examines the physico-chemical characteristics of lead–zinc mill tailings, fly ash and their mixtures for their possible utilization in paste backfilling in underground metalliferous mines. Three different mill tailing–fly ash mixtures, viz., 95:5, 92:8 and 90:10 (wt%), have been considered. The chemical, morphological and mineralogical compositions are analyzed by XRF, SEM and XRD. The morphological analysis revealed that the mill tailings are irregular in shape and fly ash particles are almost spherical in nature. The filling of inter-particle spaces of irregular mill tailings with spherical fly ash and finer mill tailings (− 20 µm) particles will enhance the rheology of mill tailing–fly ash mix paste backfill. Chemically, the lead–zinc mill tailings is enriched in SiO2, CaO, Fe2O3, and Al2O3, whereas fly ash is mainly composed of SiO2 and Al2O3 with small amounts of Fe2O3, CaO, K2O, TiO2, MgO, SO3, Na2O, and P2O5. The XRD analysis revealed that the lead–zinc mill tailings mainly contain quartz, pyrite, dolomite, hematite and calcite, while fly ash contains quartz, mullite, kaolinite and hematite. This study proved that lead–zinc mill tailings and fly ash together can be suitably used for paste backfilling in underground metalliferous mines.


Industrial wastes Mine backfilling SEM XRD XRF 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) for conducting the present study. Authors also express their sincere thanks to the HZL management for supplying the mill tailings and fly ash samples for the analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Santosh Kumar Behera
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. P. Mishra
    • 2
  • C. N. Ghosh
    • 1
  • Prashant
    • 1
  • P. K. Mandal
    • 1
  • K. M. P. Singh
    • 1
  • J. Buragohain
    • 1
  • P. K. Singh
    • 1
  1. 1.CSIR-Central Institute of Mining and Fuel ResearchDhanbadIndia
  2. 2.Department of Mining EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines)DhanbadIndia

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