David Brett, Ben Hanslow. Rob Longey
Abstract: Mine tailings storages are among the largest man made structures in the world and often pose a considerable risk to the aquatic environment due to the nature of the stored materials. In particular, sulphide minerals are prone to oxidation when brought into contact with air and water. This leads to the formation of acidic conditions within the storages leading to dissolution of toxic metals, with seepage from these structures being known as Acid Rock Drainage (ARD). ARD is responsible for pollution of natural waterways in many areas of the world with some significant examples in Australia. Current practice in the mining industry is to attempt to exclude oxygen or water from tailings storages in order to prevent the oxidation process taking place. This involves capping of the storages with sophisticated soil covers or, where sufficient water is available, leaving a permanent water cover.
Mining operations have a relatively short life, usually around 5 to 10 years, although some can operate for over 100 years, as has the Mount Lyell Mine. Normal practice has been for companies to relinquish the mining lease on the cessation of mining, however governments are now realising the extent of liability involved with the “ownership” of large waste storage facilities. Bonds are placed by mining companies during operations, intended to cover the cost of “closure” of the mine. Often the major item covered by the bond is for the “closure” of the tailings storage facility. Following “closure”, the intention is that ownership of the lease, including waste storages, reverts to the State. State governments are now more aware of the potential liabilities in accepting the relinquishment of these leases and need to address the issues of their long-term management.
In Tasmania, Dam Safety legislation covers both water and also soil covered tailings storages, with the legislation requiring each type to meet various ANCOLD guidelines. In other jurisdictions this could well also be the case through common law requirements to meet common best practice. However, the current ANCOLD Guidelines are generally written around water storage dams and interpretation to include a waste storage facility is often not straightforward. As an example a tailings dam during operations with a water storage component is clearly a dam. Due to the environmental impact of failure it could well have a Significant or High-C hazard rating, which would require design for extreme floods and earthquakes. After closure, with say a soil cover and water diverted away, is it still a dam within an ANCOLD definition? Are ANCOLD guidelines relevant? The current ANCOLD (1998) Guidelines on Tailings Dam Design, Construction and Operation does not give specific guidance on these issues.
This paper explores these questions and suggests ways that ANCOLD could provide assistance with more guidance on the long term management aspect of tailings storages to assist designers, owners and regulators consider the closure phase.
Keywords: tailings, acid drainage, mine closure
Francisco Lopez, John Bosler
Abstract: A study has been undertaken to determine the structural adequacy of the Intake Tower for the Dartmouth Dam Low Level Outlet Works under the Maximum Design Earthquake (MDE). The tower is a reinforced concrete frame structure. The study included the definition of appropriate seismic inputs and nonlinear time-history analyses for different levels of ground shaking.
The behaviour of the tower was assessed in terms of material strains. The seismic acceleration-time history was applied to the model and the nonlinear analysis identified the locations in the structure which reached the following performance thresholds: cracking of core concrete, yielding of reinforcing steel, fracture of reinforcing steel and crushing of core concrete.
The results of the study showed that the tower was able to resist, without collapse, the loadings imposed by three different MDE acceleration time-histories. The predicted level of damage consisted of generalised yielding of reinforcement, formation of numerous plastic hinges at different locations in the tower and generalised spalling of cover concrete.
Overall, the structural response of the tower under the MDE events was considered satisfactory and met the performance requirement that structural collapse should not occur.
Keywords: intake tower, nonlinear, inelastic, time-history, seismic analysis.
Peter Hill, Phillip Jordan, Rory Nathan, Emily Payne
Abstract: There are a number of issues that need to be considered when deriving estimates of floods used to assess construction flood risk. This paper outlines the derivation of seasonal flood frequency curves and highlights the important differences in seasonality across Australia and the variation with the exceedance probability. Examples are provided as to how these seasonal frequency curves are used to estimate the construction flood risk during a particular construction activity in a safety upgrade for an existing dam or construction of a new dam. The paper also touches on the issues associated with estimating consequences for assessing construction flood risk.
Keywords: construction flood, risk, seasonal hydrology, hydrologic loading
David M Schaaf, Jeffrey A Schaefer, Rick W Schultz, Jason T Needham
Abstract: As one of the main federal agencies with responsibility to build, operate, and maintain large dams in the United States, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is developing a risk based framework to better manage their portfolio of 600+ dams in terms of risk management and prioritization of funding. A key element to this effort is the development of risk-based analytical tools to evaluate primary features for applicable failure modes. These are used in conjunction with loading and consequence modules to assess the overall risk associated with the dam in terms of lives and economic damages. The focus of this paper is on the engineering analysis modules used to generate fragility curves for dam features.
The analysis modules are broken into three main categories by engineering discipline: geotechnical, structural, and mechanical/electrical. The risk based assessment tools associated with geotechnical failure modes include Seepage & Piping, Embankment Stability, Seismic Performance, and Erosion of Unlined Spillways. The structural assessment tools include Concrete Monolith Stability, Spillway Gates, Scour of Concrete Lined Spillways, Spillway Training Wall Stability, Performance of Pipes through Dams, Hydropower Superstructures and Intake Towers. The mechanical and electrical are primarily focused on the performance of machinery used to operate dam gates.
This paper gives a broad overview of the main characteristics and methods used for each of these analysis tools. Some of the modules use historical performance to establish failure rates, while others are more analytically based. The context of each within the framework of the overall risk assessment effort of USACE dams is covered.
Keywords: risk based analytical tools, fragility curves, risk assessment, US. Army Corps of Engineers, portfolio, dams.
G. Shams Ghahfarokhi, PHAJM van Gelder, JK Vrijling
Abstract: Risk and reliability analysis is presently being performed in almost all fields of engineering depending upon the specific field and its particular area. Probabilistic risk analysis (PRA), also called quantitative risk analysis (QRA) is a central feature of hydraulic engineering structural design.
Actually, probabilistic methods, which consider resistance and load parameters as random variables, are more suitable than conventional deterministic methods to determine the safety level of a hydraulic structure. In fact, hydraulic variables involved in plunge pools, such as discharge, flow depth, and velocity, are stochastic in nature, which may be represented by relevant probability distributions. Therefore, the optimal design of a plunge pool needs to be modelled by probabilistic methods.
The main topic of this paper is concerned with the reliability-based assessment of the geometry of the plunge pool downstream of a ski jump bucket. Experimental data obtained from a model of a flip bucket spillway has been used to develop a number of equations for the prediction of scour geometry downstream from a flip bucket spillway of a large dam structure. The accuracy of the developed equations was examined both through statistical and experimental procedures with satisfactory results. In addition, reliability computations have been carried out using the Monte Carlo technique.
The main conclusions are that structural reliability analysis can be used as a tool in the dam safety risk management process and that the most important factors for further analysis are erosion, friction coefficient, uplift and self-weight.
Keywords: risk analysis, reliability, plunge pool, Monte Carlo simulation, flip bucket, large dams
Marius Jonker, Mike Taylor and Glen Hobbs
Abstract: One of the activities authorized by organizations such as ANCOLD is the development of guidelines to enhance the ability of organizations to assure that adequate dam safety programs and practices are in place.
However, due to the absence of a single recognized guideline covering the various design aspects of dam outlet works, there is currently great inconsistency in the underlying principles for design and review processes for these facilities. A single, nationally recognized “standard” would lead to greater consistency between similar project designs, facilitate more effective and consistent review of proposed designs, and result in increased potential for safer more reliable facilities.
The need for a design standard is further underscored by the fact that poorly designed and/or constructed outlet works have been identified as a significant contributor to the occurrence of embankment dam failures. The failure of critical components in the outlet works of dams, not leading to an uncontrolled release of water, is generally considered less important due to apparent lesser consequences compared with a dam failure. However, the drought experienced over the past decade in Australia has highlighted the value of water and securing it for the future. The potential impact caused by the inability of a primary storage to supply a town or city, due to a failure in the outlet works, potentially affecting thousands of people and industries, could be devastating.
This paper summarises the current state of practice with regard to outlet works for dams concerning design, construction, inspection and evaluation, as well as maintenance and renovation. It also underlines some commonly occurring deficiencies encountered at existing dams. It provides a basis for further discussions of the state of practice for these topics in order to work towards consistent and unified outlet works design guidelines for dams.
Keywords: outlet works, state of practice, design guidelines