Supporting Research and Innovation

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

Mini Calibration Chamber, Australian Centre for Geomechanics and University of Western Australia

KCB is sponsoring a one-year research program focusing on developing a mini calibration chamber for use with a mini cone penetrometer at the University of Western Australia. This device, which will be more practical than a conventional large-scale calibration chamber, will be used as part of UWA’s research into static liquefaction of tailings. The purpose of this research project is to compare results obtained from a conventional calibration chamber with results from a new mini calibration chamber.

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.

KCB is providing ongoing funding to Queen’s University on other research on tailings liner systems, including cold weather applications and aging tests considering tailings geochemistry.


Joshi, P. and H. McLeod. 2018. “Effectiveness of Geomembrane Liners in Minimizing Seepage in Tailings Storage Facilities: New Knowledge,” in Proceedings of the 26th International Congress on Large Dams, July 4-6, 2018. Vienna, Austria: International Commission on Large Dams.

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

Assessment of Residual Strength of Tailings Using the Cone Penetration Test and Simplified Numerical Modelling
KCB is supporting an important research project that aims to improve the design and management of risk posed by the disposal of mine waste in tailings storage facilities. This project is also funded by NSERC. Dr. Mason Ghafghazi, an internationally recognized expert in in-situ testing and liquefaction is the Principal Investigator for this project.

Settlement and Instability of Highway Embankments due to Seismic Loading and Liquefaction
The long-term goal of this research is creating a displacement-based liquefaction assessment framework for various highway components. The research is performed in close collaboration with Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s (MTO) foundation engineering group.


  • Summarizing the state of the art procedures for field investigation and screening level liquefaction assessment
  • Investigating the influence of dynamic interactions of highway components on liquefaction response of foundations
  • Investigating the influence of static shear bias on liquefaction response

KCB will provide access to the expertise in our Vancouver office in dealing with the most seismically active area of the country. This includes experience in design of highway embankments, bridge approaches and foundation and abutment improvements. We will also provide oversight on research outcomes to make sure the results are cast in a framework that is easily usable by practicing engineers.