Supporting Research and Innovation

KCB has partnered with several universities to fund research and innovation in engineering and geoscience.

NSERC/Hydro-Quebec Industrial Research Chair in Life Cycle Optimization for Embankment Dams, Laval University

This research is to develop tools to analyse and predict the behaviour of embankment dams. The research is done under the direction of Professor Jean-Marie Konrad, principal chairholder, and Professor Jean Côté, associate chairholder.


  • improve our understanding of the behaviour of materials used in embankment dams, particularly in the event of an earthquake;
  • characterize the hydric, thermal and mechanical behaviours of embankment dam materials, such as till, sand and gravel used as filter and rockfill;
  • model and predict the behaviour of embankment dams under normal and exceptional conditions, such as during an earthquake;
  • facilitate the interpretation of data collected during the monitoring of the structures;
  • develop selection criteria for materials to optimize the service life of dams;
  • establish criteria for the inspection of embankment dams.

For a list of papers and theses related to this research, please click here.

GeoEngineering Centre, Queen’s University

The scope of work for this research project at the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining Engineering dealt with the “Evaluation of the potential for piping of tailings through a hole into a geomembrane and into the underlying foundation”. The research took place over three years and involved the study of liner design for tailings impoundments. The Principal Investigators are Dr. Kerry Rowe and Dr. Richard Brachman.


Rowe, R.K., Joshi, P., Brachman, R.W I., McLeod, H. 2017. “Leakage Through Holes In Geomembranes Below Saturated Tailings”. Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol.143(2), DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)GT.1943-5606.0001606.

P. Joshi, R. K. Rowe, R. W. I. Brachman: Physical and hydraulic response of geomembrane wrinkles underlying saturated fine tailings. Geosynthetics International 08/2016; DOI:10.1680/jgein.16.00017

Richard W.I. Brachman, Prabeen Joshi, Kerry Rowe: A new laboratory apparatus for measuring leakage through geomembrane holes beneath mine tailings. Canadian Geotechnical Journal 09/2016; DOI:10.1139/cgj-2016-0333

Joshi, P., Brachman, R.W.I., and Rowe, R.K. (2014) “A new laboratory apparatus for testing geomembrane leakage with mine tailings under large earth and fluid pressures”, Canadian Geotechnical Conference, GeoRegina, Regina. 6p.

Quantification of Impact of Tailings Aging on Accuracy of Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) Water and Chemical Balance Modelling, Sustainable Minerals Institute

In 2015, KCB started a multi-year agreement with the Environment Centres of the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) at the University of Queensland to advance our understanding of the long-term behaviour of mine tailings.

SMIResearchers Dr. Thomas Baumgartl and Dr. Mansour Edraki will lead the work, which focuses on assessing the impact of repeated wetting-drying cycles on the aging of mine tailings. In finalizing our agreement, Dr. Baumgartl said there is a lack of knowledge on the impact of aging tailings on the water and geochemical balance of tailings storage facilities. He indicated that there is a need for research to quantify the hydrological, geomechanical and geochemical characteristics of mine tailings, while taking into account the influence of tailings consolidation and weathering effects as tailings age. This research will lead to a better understanding of the long-term behaviour of tailings and how industry manages such a crucial part of the mining process through the mine life cycle.

University of Toronto, Civil Engineering Department

KCB is supporting an important research project on Soil-Specific Cone Penetration Test Interpretation Framework for Tailings. The goal is to improve current understanding and practice in assessing liquefaction of tailings. This project is also funded by Ontario Centres of Excellence and NSERC-Engage. Dr. Mason Ghafghazi, Principal Investigator, and his students will be conducting the research for this project.