2007 – Safety assessment of mining subsidence impact on Upper Cordeaux Number 2 Dam

David Ho, Chee Wei Tan and Glen Dominish

Upper Cordeaux Number 2 Dam is founded on an igneous intrusion rock mass which overlays sedimentary rock layers above the Wongawilli Coal seam. The coal mining company, BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal, planned to extract coal close to the dam. Although the dam is classified as a low hazard dam, its importance, both as part of the Sydney Catchment Authority’s water supply system and for its significant heritage value, mean that the proposed mining should not have undesirable impact on the structure. This paper describes how the mining impact on the dam was assessed using a nonlinear 3D finite element model. The model considered the pre-existing cracks in the dam wall, uplift water pressure along the dam/foundation interface and the hydrostatic pressure at full supply level. Mining-induced movement such as valley opening, closure and upsidence were applied to the model. Stability and strength assessments were made against a set of acceptance criteria developed for mining impact. The development of different stabilising mechanisms was examined. From the numerical investigation, WorleyParsons was able to provide technical advice to the mining company, the dam owner and the NSW Dam Safety Committee to facilitate the mining application and to satisfy dam safety requirements.

Keywords: Mining subsidence, Arch/gravity dam, Nonlinear numerical analysis, Safety assessment

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