2009 – Unique Approach of an Integrated Design and Material Selection for an 80 Metre High Stepped Spillway

Thomas Vasconi, Glen Fergus

Abstract: This paper describes the design of an 80 m-high stepped chute spillway, in gabion material, that will be constructed on a tailings storage facility dam of a mine in South East Asia. This dam, constituted of two cells, will be raised progressively via a series of intermediate crest elevations as mining proceeds, and each lift will be equipped with an operational spillway. The design of such spillways was challenging since it had to integrate local topography configuration, dam design, water balance, wall raise sequence and structure interdependency parameters. The design included flood routing, spillway sizing, stepped spillway design, followed by hydraulic and civil/geotechnical computations. Challenging design aspects included optimizing the stepped spillway structure costs in light of the structure’s short service (estimated to be less than 5 years), and ensuring the stability component. The design incorporates an innovative solution which allows reduction in the rockfill quantity of up to 40% with associated cost benefits, and sustainability in terms of material usage. The lessons learnt in applying this innovative design are useful for other sites requiring adaptive construction and short service life spillways.

Keywords: tailings dam, stepped spillway, hydrology, hydraulics, mine water management, gabions.

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