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Proceedings of Past Forest Nursery Association Meetings:

Phosphate Mine Reclamation in Tennesse
E. J. Griffith and H. N. Lyles
1996: Gatlinburg, TN
Throughout the life of the Columbia Tennessee Elemental Phosphorus Plant, it was necessary to beneficiate our phosphate ore by washing illite clay from the ore. The clay was delivered as a 4% slurry to large tailings ponds where the solids were settled and de-watered. The largest tailings pond (number 15) was almost 200 feet deep in settled clay and over 400 acres at the surface. When settled and drained, the clay in the ponds have a consistency similar to mayonnaise, but dry to a solid cracked crust on the surface, causing them to appear deceitfully safe. This is particularly true after scrub vegetation covered the surface of an abandoned mud flat. After a few years, men can usually be supported by the dried crust of an abandoned tailings pond, but machinery can break through the crust and sink into the soggy slimes below.

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