This study aims to develop a novel mine backfill material called foam mine fill (FMF). A cellular structure is achieved by incorporating a premade foam into the backfill mixture using an air-entraining agent. FMF samples were prepared with copper-nickel mine tailings and normal Portland cement. Experiments were designed to investigate the effect of binder dosage, volume of entrained air, and foam mixing time on FMF unconfined compressive strength (UCS) and dry density. Moreover, a qualitative microscopic assessment investigated the effect of foam mixing time on air bubble structure. The pore size distribution and porosity of selected samples were investigated through mercury intrusion porosimetry. Relative to reference samples without entrained air, the UCS of FMF samples was 20–50% lower. However, the concomitant lower dry density (by up to 360 kg/m3
) could enhance the safety of the underground working environment, especially in underhand cut-and-fill mining where miners and machinery work beneath the backfilled stope, and lower-density fill material would minimize the adverse effects of potential backfill failure. Prolonged foam mixing time led to a significant loss in UCS and total collapse of the air bubble structure. Other potential applications for FMF are areas where there are tailings shortages and as an alternative to hydraulic fill.
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