There are many international guidelines, state regulations and technical standards relating to tailings disposal. In addition, the larger mining companies have their own in-house standards and design rules with competent personnel in charge of their operations. Sound embankment design methods can be used by most designers familiar with earth dam design.
The paper gives a listing of many of the current sources of information and guidance available, with some comments by the author on their perceived relevance to the Australian mining industry. Despite the availability of a number of other guidelines at the time, the need for Australian Guidelines was recognised in the mid 1990s and the reasons for the development of the 1999 ANCOLD Tailings Guideline are explained.
Perhaps the best recognition of the need for the original ANCOLD guideline is the degree to which it has been adopted since publishing the 1999 edition. It is in almost universal use in the Australian mining industry and is recognised as providing appropriate and acceptable standards by all state governments. Its use is recognised and sometimes even specified by a number of neighbouring countries and it is also recognised internationally when used by Australian companies with overseas operations.
The reasons for this wide acceptance are described. However, there are some areas where more recent developments have led to the Guidelines becoming dated and improved international guidelines have been published since 1999. The need for a revised ANCOLD guideline and its elevance is then described.
Keywords: Tailings, dams, mining, guidelines
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Many earthen dams and embankments throughout the world are in need of remediation to address seepage or other issues and ensure structural integrity. Borehole drilling plays a vital role in facilitating implementation of remedial designs, both in the initial information gathering stage and the actual construction of a chosen remedy.
Within the past six to eight years Sonic drilling has become recognized within the geotechnical community as a viable method to meet overall project objectives and address site specific issues for a variety of projects. Key aspects of Sonics include: the ability to efficiently penetrate difficult subsurface conditions, provide a continuous core sample of unmatched quality, and minimize or eliminate risk to the structure from the drilling process. This paper focuses on the application of Sonic in support of a remedial effort at Wolf Creek Dam, including information on the background and overall objectives of the project, a brief explanation of the Sonic method, the scope of services required at the site, and the specific reasons for utilizing Sonic in this case.
Keywords: sonic drilling, grout curtain, Wolf Creek Dam, dam remediation
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.
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.
David Ryan, Simone Gillespie
The Burdekin Falls Dam is the largest of the 19 dams owned by SunWater. The dam is located on the Burdekin River at AMTD 159.3km, approximately 210 km south of Townsville and supplies water for irrigation, urban and industrial development in the lower Burdekin Region. The dam has such unique features as the largest spillway of any dam in Australia and a catchment area of 114,770 km2, which is equivalent to about 1.7 times the land area of Tasmania. It is proposed to raise the dam to provide a more certain water supply for the North Queensland region. This paper outlines the features of the existing structure, the influence of the revised hydrology since the time of its construction and the options considered in the planning and design of the raised structure.
Keywords: Burdekin Falls Dam, unique features, spillway, fuse plug.