David Brett, Bruce Brown, Imran Gillani, David Williams
This paper reports the direction of a current review of the 1999 ANCOLD Guidelines on Design, Construction and Operation of Tailings Dams. A sub-committee has been formed and has determined that the majority of the current guidelines need only minor editing but that additional attention is required to the concepts of risk and design for closure.
Major mining companies recognise that effective operation and closure of their tailings facilities are fundamental to their continued business from financial and political aspects. Risk needs to be managed throughout the life cycle of a TSF through planning, design, operation, closure and post-closure. Various methods are used to assess the “consequence category” of a TSF. This then determines design and operational criteria. Risks are identified and controls developed to limit these to acceptable levels.
The involvement in the sub-committee of representatives of the mining industry gives an industry perspective to this issue. This includes determination of acceptable risk levels and how to manage operations to achieve them.
The current ANCOLD Guidelines are very limited in terms of guidance for closure and possible abandonment of TSFs. However this area is perhaps the most critical from an economic and environmental perspective. The issues to be faced at closure and post-closure should be considered at the planning and design phases. The paper outlines some of the post closure cases that might need to be considered in design.
Keywords: guidelines, tailings dams, ANCOLD
Rob Ayre, Simone Gillespie, Peter Richardson, Mark Harvey
In November 2007, NQWater (now Townsville City Council) completed the upgrade of Ross River Dam near Townsville. This upgrade included the installation of a Program Logic Control (PLC) operated radial gate structure in the existing spillway. The purpose of the upgrade was threefold; to meet current design standards regarding dam safety and flood capacity; increase the town water supply to Townsville and Thuringowa; and to maintain the flood mitigation benefit of the dam during flood events in the Ross River catchment.
The designers of the dam upgrade completed a risk assessment at the commencement of the design phase and concluded that a PLC operated gated dam posed less risk than an approach that relied purely on dam operators. This is seen as the “new way forward” in gate operated dams by many designers. The regulator of dam safety in Queensland has indicated a preference for an operator to remain on site full time whilst the PLC system is ‘proved’. As a consequence a flood operations team was engaged to monitor the dam during times of flood through the commissioning period of the upgrade.
This paper discusses the lessons learnt from the experiences of the Ross River Dam during its first few flood events and issues associated with the adopted design approach.
Keywords: Dam Safety, Gated Spillway, Flood Operations, Ross River Dam, NQWater, Townsville City Council, SunWater, Queensland.
Gavan Hunter, Chris Chamberlain, Mark Foster
Hinze dam, an extreme hazard storage, is under the authority of Seqwater (Southeast Queensland) and is principle potable water storage supplying the Gold Coast. Hinze Dam Stage 3, presently under construction, involves raising the existing embankment almost 15m to a maximum height of 80m.
The foundation geology on the right abutment of the main embankment comprises of a deeply weathered sequence of greywacke and variably silicified greenstone and chert. The deeply (and variably) weathered soil profile below the right abutment of the existing embankment presented an unacceptable piping risk for the embankment in its existing condition. Contributing factors included: 1/ the highly erodible extremely weathered greywacke and presence of continuous defects in the weathered soil mass; 2/ the extremely weathered greenstone in direct contact with highly fractured, highly permeable silicified greenstone and chert bodies aligned normal to the dam axis which provide continuous seepage paths through the foundation.
Works were required as part of the Stage 3 raise to address the foundation piping risk. Significant issues for design included: 1/ the depth of weathering extended up to 25to 40m into the foundation.; 2/ extremely weathered and highly erodible greenstone was present below the right abutment of the embankment and extended down to the lower abutment some 50 to 60 m below the existing dam crest; 3/ the reservoir level could not be drawn down during construction and the probability it would be near full supply level during the works was high; and 4/ the variability of strength in the greenstone form soil to extremely high strength presented challenges for excavation.
The options assessed to address the piping risk included a plastic concrete cut-off wall and an upstream blanketing option. The plastic concrete cut-off wall (220m long and up to 50m deep) and deep filter trench was the selected option. The cut-off wall had been successfully completed ahead of time and below budget. The innovative design required excavation through earthfill core of the embankment under full reservoir level and use of a purpose built trench cutter (by Bauer Foundations Australia) for the variable excavation conditions.
Keywords: dam safety, piping, risk assessment, cut-off wall.
Peter Cordi, Paul Fuller
Tallowa Dam was completed in 1977 at the junction of the Shoalhaven and Kangaroo Rivers in the southern highlands of NSW to provide a pumping pool for water supply transfers to Sydney. These transfers were made only during drought periods, at which time limited and fixed environmental flow releases from a low level outlet were made to the downstream Shoalhaven River. After extensive consultation with the local community the Government decided in 2006 to commence transfers earlier in the drought cycle, and release variable amounts of surface water to improve river health during transfer periods. In addition, Tallowa Dam was identified as having a significant impact on fish passage, as many species migrate to the estuary during their life cycle, and approximately 75% of the viable fish habitat was upstream of the dam. This project involved the design and construction of works to be retrofitted to the dam to address both issues. A surface water release slide gate in the spillway, a low friction coating on the spillway, and a downstream weir were constructed to release environmental flows and allow safe downstream fish passage. A new fish attraction flow outlet was drilled through the dam wall, and a fish attraction chamber and a travelling bucket fish lift was installed for upstream fish passage.
Keywords: environmental flows, fish passage, Shoalhaven River, construction.
Amanda Barrett, Mike Marley, Tariq Rahiman
The site of the Wyaralong Dam, west of Beaudesert, Queensland, has been investigated in progressive stages since 1991. The first stage of the investigation was a siting study and the second in 2006 was designed to gather sufficient geotechnical information to develop a preliminary design and provide input into the environmental approval process. The third stage of the investigation was designed to gather further information to allow the detailed design of the dam to commence. This iterative investigation approach has ensured confidence in the site geology and geotechnical model.
The site investigations have included diamond drilling, piezo-cone penetration testing, geophysics techniques, hydraulic conductivity testing, groundwater pumping tests, costean excavation, geological mapping and accompanying laboratory test programs. Investigations have been targeted to assess the foundation conditions for the proposed engineering structure and have been refined to the needs of the dam design as it has developed.
With sufficient data, a 3-dimensional geotechnical model has been developed using the computer modelling program Vulcan, to assess the position and influence of a number of key geological features observed in the site investigation. Assessment of engineering properties based on in situ and laboratory testing were then extrapolated across the site through application of the geotechnical model.
Keywords: Wyaralong Dam, geotechnical investigation, geology, 3-D Vulcan model, foundation.
Tariq I.H. Rahiman, Amanda Barrett, Greg Dryden, Mike Marley, Cecile Coll
In this study we present the engineering geology of complex Late Carboniferous to Early Permian silicic volcanic rocks underlying the Connors River dam site located on the Connors River, at Adopted Middle Thread Distance (AMTD) 97.7 km. The initial investigation of the site by SMEC in 1976 characterised the bedrock as simple laterally continuous layers of rhyolite and pyroclastic rocks. Engaged by SunWater Limited since October 2007, Golder Associates have utilised a range of modern investigative techniques to reveal a more intricate bedrock geological model.
Geological mapping, targeted vertical and angle geotechnical drilling and trenching reveal that the dam site foundation consists of complexly laid felsic crystalline volcanic flow deposits, volcaniclastic (pyroclastic) deposits, and mafic intrusives. Petrographical tests depict a broad range of rock types that includes rhyolite, rhyodacite, dacite, basalt, volcanic breccia, lapilli tuff and tuff. Surface structural mapping and downhole acoustic televiewer profiling reveal that defects of varying orientations have developed in the rocks mainly as a result of tectonism. The rock defects are predominantly open joints and faults, and minor bedding, flow bands, decomposed seams and veins. The permeability of the bedrock, which appears to be primarily controlled by rock defects, was assessed using the results of Lugeon tests.
Rock stratigraphy, mineralogy and texture combined with high resolution seismic tomographic imaging were used to delineate three main engineering rock units. Unit 1, the oldest, occurs on the right abutment and consists mainly of slightly weathered to fresh, high to very high strength dacites and rhyodacites. Unit 2 occupies the central area of the dam foundation and overlies Unit 1. It comprises weakly bedded, slightly weathered to fresh, high to very high strength volcaniclastic rocks. Unit 3, consisting of variably weathered, high to very high strength flow banded and autobrecciated rhyolite, is the youngest unit and it overlies and partially intrudes Unit 2. All three rock units are intruded by slightly weathered to fresh and very high strength basalt, either as dykes or sills. The rock mass properties of the rock units were evaluated based on rock strength tests and the geological strength index (GSI).
Keywords: engineering geology, dam foundation, volcanic rocks, Connors River, dam site