Cemented coal fly ash backfill (CCB), a flowable structure of coal fly ash, binding agent and mixing water, has been often employed in mining operations to offer ground support as well as waste disposal solutions. An appropriate CCB mass should have sufficient rheological (e.g., workability) and mechanical (e.g., strength and stability) characteristics. Chemical admixtures are well known to greatly enhance the pumpability and strength properties of cementitious materials. Thus, this work provides the effect of water-reducing admixtures (namely, Sikament MR 50 W and Sikament FFN) on characteristics of CCB materials manufactured at a constant slump value. The role of admixtures in CCB mix is to reduce the cement-related costs, to modify the properties of the hardened backfills, and to ensure the quality of the backfill during mixing, transporting, placing, and curing. These admixtures were used at a dosage of 1% and 2% by weight of anhydrous material on cement. Several laboratory tests including slump, setting time, uniaxial compressive strength, scanning electron microscopy and mercury intrusion porosimetry were undertaken on CCB samples to understand their fresh and hardened performance. Experimental results show that the admixtures used ensure the slump required to deliver CCB at low water/cement ratios, improve short- and long-term backfill strengths up to 33%, and decrease the total porosity of the tested CCB. The findings of this study also show that the admixture use in CCB leads to a significant decrease in the considered cement content and a remarkable increase in the mechanical strength. As a result, understanding the actual fresh and hardened properties of CCB remains crucial for the choice of the greatest acting backfill admixture and for a fruitful change from capable experimental results to the in-situ conditions. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.