Rheology and Pipe-Loop Testing, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Various Clients


ATC Williams has a proud tradition of engineering innovation and is constantly developing new test procedures to meet the ever growing demands of the mining industry. Of particular interest is the rheology and pipe-loop testing for slurry transport and the predicting of tailings behaviours. As global specialists in mine tailings management we realise that finding optimum design in tailings transport and storage facilities is vital.

Hydraulic transportation of wet tailings (slurry) from the processing plant to Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF) is currently the most common type of material handling undertaken at most mine sites worldwide. Robustness and reliability of such systems requires extensive materials testing to better understand the system requirements, including equipment selection, and the performance and operation of the system.

Rheo: “The branch of physics that deals with the deformation and flow of matter, especially the non-Newtonian flow of liquids and the plastic flow of solids.”

Logy: “Denoting a subject of study or interest.”


Rheology and Pipe-Loop Testing

Tailings characteristics, material rheology and flow behaviour are of critical importance for the design of slurry transport systems. These characteristics are unique for each tailings slurry. Hence, when designing a slurry transport system (open channel or pressurised pipe and pumping system) it is recommended that suitable testing be undertaken in order to design a site specific optimised transport system which is cost effective and which provides hassle free operation for the life of the project.

ATC Williams offer a full range of testing services in regards to hydraulic slurry transportation including rotational rheology and pipe-loop testing. The appropriate testing approach for each tailings sample is decided depending on the type of slurry, range of solids concentration, particle size distribution and the purpose of the study.

Our pipe-loop test arrangement consists of three different size pipes (each 6m in length). The pipe-loop is fitted with six pressure transducers to record the pressure drop along the pipes. The flow and density measurement of slurry is obtained by a Coriolis meter and the head loss data from the pipe-loop testing is used to determine the rheology of the slurry.

Results from a standard rotary rheometer are interpreted to provide additional data to further assist in slurry transport system design and in understanding the behaviour of deposited tailings and the developing beach within the TSF. The typical findings expected from the rheological and pipe-loop investigations are as follows:

  • Material rheological models
  • Accurate head loss prediction
  • Estimation of deposition velocity
  • Minimum transport velocity prediction
  • Settling slurry rheology


The utilisation of the pipe-loop facility and rotational viscometer has assisted our engineers in better understanding the behaviour of tailings slurry in transport by pump and pipeline or open channel systems. It has also provided valuable information with regards to deposition of tailings in the TSF and beach development. The laboratory test results are factored into our designs to facilitate the best possible outcomes.