Rick Friedel, Len Murray, Gerrad Suter, James Penman, James Watt, Hendra Jitno
The Hidden Valley tailings storage facility (TSF) has set a new precedent in environmental management of tailings in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Modern mining in PNG arguably began with the development of Bougainville Copper in the late 1960s, and continued through to Ok Tedi, Porgera, Lihir, Misima (and others). These mines have proceeded with deep sea or riverine tailings deposition, rather than construction of a tailings dam to retain the mine waste within an impoundment; as is the practice throughout the majority of the mining industry.
The Hidden Valley TSF is comprised of two large earth and rock fill dams, raised by the downstream method. Starter dam construction was completed in 2009. At final height the Main Dam will be one of the highest tailings dams in the world. The dams are constructed of pit waste and therefore have the dual function of storing tailings and waste rock.
Construction of the starter dams and subsequent raises is complicated by conditions at the site. Water management was, and remains, the dominant issue. High rainfall, weak erosive soils, material availability, dense vegetation and remoteness of the site provide constant challenges to construction. The Observational Approach to construction was recommended by the designers and adopted by the mine operator. This involves a knowledgeable pre-assessment of what is likely to change and having contingency plans to deal with possible major issues. This approach allows changes to the design during construction so the “as-built” product is suited for the site, fit for purpose, and remains consistent with the overall intent of the design.
The TSF has been in operation since August 2009 and monitoring data of the structures has been collected during construction and operation. This data is reviewed to confirm design assumptions and assess dam performance.
Personnel involved with this project combined their experiences working in the PNG environment and dam building from other locations. This process led to close interaction between the mine operators, designers and construction teams. Team work and diligent construction practices were and will continue to be necessary to construct and operate the pioneering TSF in PNG.
Richard Herweynen, Robert Montalvo, John Ager
The choice of materials used in the construction of a dam is one of the most critical decisions in the design process. Our natural behaviour as engineers is to adopt materials which have proven performance, and which conform to Australian or international standards, which sometimes causes us to overlook the specific conditions and demands of the project at hand. In an environment where the majority of concrete produced is for structural purposes, the properties of these concretes is often vastly different to those desired for mass concrete structures such as dams and spillways.
The big question at Wyaralong Dam was could onsite aggregate be used in the Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC)? The Wyaralong Dam is located in the Gatton Sandstone (early Jurassic), predominantly feldspathic to lithic‐feldspathic sandstones with a clay matrix. Early analyses and tests suggested that the Gatton Sandstone was not suitable for RCC aggregate due to a 68% wet/dry strength reduction, high water absorption (5.2 – 7.5%) and petrographic interpretation that clay content was mainly swelling clay, leading to durability concerns.
Due to significant community, safety and cost issues with importing aggregate, Wyaralong Dam Alliance (WDA), during the development of the RCC mix design for Wyaralong Dam, chose to pursue the use of onsite quarried sandstone aggregate instead of importing aggregate. Additional petrographic and XRD analyses and extensive durability tests were undertaken on cores of sandstone and RCC samples, including wet‐dry cycles, soak tests in ethylene glycol, soaks in sodium hydroxide, and heating and cooling cycles. These tests indicated that, if swelling clays are present, they do not impact the durability behavior of the RCC aggregate.
The substantial effort put into testing the sandstone aggregate has paid off for WDA. Not only have the results indicated that the RCC mix performs remarkably well in terms of durability, but the very low modulus of elasticity of the mix has provided exceptional performance in terms of thermal loading; with all the related benefits in reduced restrictions to placement schedule and cooling requirements. Onsite sandstone was not only proven to be a feasible option, it has been demonstrated that it is the best option for the project. Details of the study are provided in this paper.
Keywords: Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC), Sandstone, Aggregate, Clay, Mix, Durability
Ben Greentree, David Bamforth, Matthew O’Rourke and James Willey
A series of relatively small floods occurring between end of construction in 1978 and late 1980s caused extensive and dramatic rock erosion to the very steep unlined section of the Googong Dam spillway. Following a review of hydraulic performance at larger floods, the spillway’s future erosion potential was evaluated and it became clear that extensive remedial work was required. A detailed design was developed comprising the retro-fitting of a full concrete-lined chute, the raising and extension of the spillway chute walls, strengthening of the upstream training walls and excavation of a large plunge pool. The Googong Dam has an ANCOLD hazard rating of ‘extreme’ because of its location upstream of Queanbeyan and Canberra.
In early 2008, the Bulk Water Alliance (BWA), comprising ACTEW Corporation Ltd, (in cooperation with ActewAGL) (the Owner), GHD Pty Ltd (the Designer) and Abigroup Contractors Pty Ltd in joint venture with John Holland Pty Ltd (the Constructors) was formed to deliver a package of water security projects for the ACT, one of which is the Googong Dam Spillway Upgrade.
After preparation of a construction methodology and target outturn cost (TOC), the project was approved by the Actew Board and construction commenced in February 2009. Completion is due in late 2010. A number of significant geotechnical, structural and logistical challenges were encountered during construction, resulting in major changes to the construction methodology necessitating design changes. The changes were incorporated within the original TOC, without instigating scope change contractual claims and while still maintaining spillway functionality in line with Owner operational requirements.
This paper presents delivery phase challenges that necessitated construction methodology and design changes to achieve best for project outcomes; how these challenges were overcome through genuine innovation reliant on a collaborative effort by all the Alliance partners; and how the contractual framework of the Alliance was essential for the change management process to be successful.
Cat McConkey, Zarmina Nasir, Rachel Caoil
The Enlarged Cotter Dam (ECD) is the first major project to be assessed and approved under the new planning regime in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). ACTEW chose the ECD as its highest priority option in securing Canberra’s water supply for the future because of its relative economic benefit to the community, reliability of water supply, technical feasibility and comparatively low environmental impact.
The planning and construction of large dams has been reduced from a typical 10 plus years to four years in the ACT and surrounds for the ECD. Australian and International Dam design and construction has significantly developed from a time when dam approvals focused on engineering, economics and constructability to now include regulatory planning processes that seek to reconcile environmental, social and economic impacts.
This paper explores and contrasts the experience of securing approvals for the ECD in 2009 to past experiences of dam planning approvals and consultation processes.
David Ryan, Peter Richardson, William Steen
Ibis Creek Dam, a referable dam and classified as a mass concrete gravity structure, was constructed in 1906 to supply water for both tin ore processing and the local township of Irvinebank. Irvinebank is a small township near Atherton in North Queensland and is situated about 3 km downstream of the dam. The mill ceased operation in 1990 but the township of Irvinebank remains reliant on the dam for water supply.
In 1996 the dam was raised about 1 m and strengthened by the addition of mass concrete on the crest and downstream face.
One recommendation of the Safety Review conducted in 2009 was that an investigation be made of the strength of the lift joints and the shear capacity of the connection between the Stage I and Stage II concrete sections. The investigations revealed that the structure was not constructed as had been originally assumed and the overall stability of the structure had been overestimated.
This paper details the investigations and remedial works proposed to strengthen the structure so that it complies with current design standards.
Ted Montoya, David Hughes, Orville Werner
The existing Hinze Dam was raised beginning in 2007 to increase water storage capacity, improve its ability to regulate floods, and raise the level of structural safety as compared to the current dam. As part of the 15 m raise of Hinze Dam, the existing 33 m high spillway structure was raised using mass concrete. This new composite structure was constructed as a downstream raise, placing mass concrete on the downstream and top of the existing spillway. The designers of the composite spillway structure developed a finite-element model to consider the early expansion and subsequent slow contraction of the new concrete against the existing concrete. The temperature rise of the new section of mass concrete had to be monitored and controlled to reduce the tensile strains along its interface with the existing spillway, and differential temperatures had to be limited to avoid cracking of the new mass section. Low-heat cement for a conventional mass concrete mix was not readily available so a mix was developed using local materials.
Typical mass concrete dams are monolithic structures constructed with lowheat cement. The Hinze Dam spillway design was predicated on the use of materials readily available. The paper presents the assumptions, methods, and criteria that were used in developing the mass concrete mix. It also presents the means and methods for tracking temperature gain during construction of the raised spillway, and how temperature was influenced by placement temperature, construction sequencing, and seasonal conditions. Lastly, the paper will compare the actual performance of the mix with the design analysis, laboratory testing, and finite element studies that were performed during the design.