The flow of non-Newtonian fluids in open channels has great significance in many industrial settings from water treatment to mine waste disposal. The turbulent behaviour during transportation of these materials is of interest for many reasons, one of which is keeping settleable particles in suspension. The mechanism governing particle transport in turbulent flow has been studied in the past, but is not well understood. A better understanding of the mechanism operating in the turbulent flow of non-Newtonian suspensions in open channel would lead to improved design of many of the systems used in the mining and mineral processing industries. The objective of this paper is to introduce our work on the Direct Numerical Simulation of turbulent flow of non-Newtonian fluids in an open channel. The numerical method is based on spectral element/Fourier formulation. The flow simulation of a Herschel-Bulkley fluid agrees qualitatively with experimental results. The simulation results over-predict the flow velocity by approximately 15% for the cases considered, although the source of the discrepancy is difficult to ascertain. The effect of variation in yield stress and assumed flow depth are investigated and used to assess the sensitivity of the flow to these physical parameters. This methodology is seen to be useful in designing and optimising the transport of slurries in open channels. © 2010 American Institute of Physics.