B. Ghahreman Nejad, H. Taiebat, M. Dillon and K. Seddon
One of the causes of tailings dam failure has been seismically induced liquefaction during earthquakes. Liquefaction, if mobilised, significantly reduces the stiffness and strength of affected soils in the embankment dam or its foundation and may lead to large deformations and dam failure. This paper reports the results of seismic liquefaction assessment and deformation analyses of Bobadil tailings dam located in Tasmania. The tailings dam consists of a perimeter rockfill starter dam which has been raised in stages using the “upstream” construction method. The embankment raises (formed by clay or coarse tailings) are constructed over a foundation of previously deposited tailings in the impoundment which is potentially susceptible to liquefaction. Extensive field and laboratory tests were carried out to assess the tailings liquefaction potential and also to determine the material properties required for seismic stability and deformation analyses. Numerical modelling of seismic liquefaction and deformation analyses were carried out to predict the magnitude and pattern of deformations that may lead to uncontrolled release of tailings. The results of these analyses are presented and compared with literature report of those observed during past earthquakes.
2011 – Numerical Modelling of Seismic Liquefaction for Bobadil Tailings Dam
Bob Wark, Louise Thomas, Andrew Peek
Alkali Silica Reaction (ASR) has been by far the dominant cause identified in the deterioration of concrete caused by expansion of the pastes from an interaction with the aggregates. However the path to the identification of the presence of the deleterious effects of ASR is not always straightforward. In a recent example, the concrete spillway slabs and walls at South Dandalup Dam exhibited classic craze cracking symptoms of ASR. However when subjected to more detailed analysis the driving process was found to be delayed ettringite formation (DEF).
ASR and DEF are chemically different concrete deterioration mechanisms with physically similar manifestation, causing slow concrete expansion in the presence of moisture. ASR has been reported mostly in concrete structures constructed prior to the early 90’s when the DEF deterioration mechanism was not fully recognised. However it is possible that ASR and DEF can take place simultaneously and more extensive damage due to DEF could have occurred and remain undetected.
The paper will also describe a recent case using basalt aggregate for Stirling Dam in which the use of an accelerated mortar bar test gave an extreme reaction but the ASTM concrete prism expansion test gave a negative result. Further detailed petrographic examination provided the clues to the real cause.
The paper will describe the occurrence of the problems, compare the causes and outline the methods undertaken to investigate the issues. Alternative concrete mix designs, incorporating a high flyash content to replace ordinary Portland cement as the main pozzolanic material, have been investigated and successfully implemented. This paper describes the investigations undertaken to develop these alternate mixes, the resultant properties of the concrete and its resistance to deterioration.
2011 – Searching for Solutions to ASR
Alex Gower, Graeme Mannand Peter Hulcup
The Water Corporation is the principal dam owner in Western Australian with a portfolio of 70 dams. Many of these dams are more than 30 years old and were designed and constructed prior to the writing of most occupational health and safety legislation and associated regulations and standards. Achieving compliance with these regulations and standards on the older assets has led to increasingly complex procedures and increased costs to undertake what were previously routine inspection, operation and maintenance tasks. In some cases achieving compliance has become impractical and modification to the assets is required.
This paper discusses a range of different safety issues, hazards and challenges faced at dams in Western Australia. These include prevention of falls from height, rescue of injured personnel within intake towers and drainage galleries and public access on the dams. Solutions adopted to improve safety and security for operators and the public are presented.
2011 – Safer Access at Water Corporation Dams
Craig Messer, Francisco Lopez, and Manoj Laxman
The Enlarged Cotter Dam is a new 80m high Roller Compacted Concrete Dam being constructed to augment the water supply for the Canberra region. Due to the size of the main dam and the extreme climatic variations in the ACT, where temperatures range from sub zero in winter to in excess of forty degrees in summer, it is expected that significant stresses will be generated during the cooling of the structure. For this reason it is essential that an understanding of the magnitude of these stresses is developed through the initial strength development period and at critical periods such as the first and second winter when the temperature differential between ambient conditions and the core of the structure may be greatest. The development of thermal stress within the structure has critical impacts on both the RCC mix design and the dam construction equipment and methodology.
For the Enlarged Cotter Dam, thermal stresses were investigated using both two and three dimensional finite element transient heat transfer analyses, making use of the thermal properties derived from laboratory testing including instrumented thermal blocks, as well as established literature. Modelling of the thermal stresses in the dam required the development of time dependent concrete properties, such as strength, stiffness and heat generation, with the latter based on test results and calibrated to actual measured values. Additionally, site dependent conditions for ambient temperature, external conduction, convection and radiation factors, dam foundation temperatures and restraint, dam construction sequence, formwork, joint spacing, insulation and timing of reservoir filling were also modelled.
Initial thermal modelling of the dam demonstrated that significant tensile stresses and potential cracking could develop within the structure, at both early and mature concrete ages. Subsequent analyses were developed to investigate methods of reducing these stresses to within acceptable limits. This paper presents the results of the thermal analyses, including the methods to be employed during and after construction to minimise cracking without impacting construction costs and even optimising the speed of construction.
Finite Element Transient Thermal Analysis of the Enlarged Cotter Dam
Bruce Brown, Mark Coghill
Tailings management practices have evolved significantly over the last 30 to 40 years with emphasis on long term geotechnical and geochemical stability to meet community expectations and company liabilities. The main drivers have been environmental protection both during operations and post closure, public safety and water conservation. Mining companies have become aware of the significant risks resulting from the operation of tailings facilities with a number of high profile failures occurring in recent times. The common practice of building a containment structure and depositing tailings as unthickened slurry is being challenged and tested against alternative tailings treatment technologies. These include high rate thickening, paste thickening and filtration. The potential benefits of these technologies include significant reduction in process water losses, reduced design duties for the confinement structures and improved conditions for closure. Notwithstanding these potential benefits, very few facilities have implemented the new technologies due to economic constraints imposed by the evaluation methods used by the mining industry. This paper summarises the available tailings treatment technologies and the resulting implications for tailings facility design. It reviews the benefits and critiques the economic evaluation method currently in use and recommends that the industry changes its evaluation methodology to drive future trends.
Tailings Storage, Current and Future Trends
The application of maintenance to mechanical assets is a mature and well understood discipline. Although techniques and methods differ from industry to industry, the experiences and knowledge of practitioners should be transferable, but are they?
A challenge faced by all engineers is finding the appropriate balance between obtaining detailed physical evidence of asset condition through invasive disassembly and inspection against assessing condition based on monitoring and past performance.
This paper describes the experiences of the author in applying mechanical maintenance skills in the dams environment and shares some important lessons learned along the way.
2011 – If it ain’t broke don’t fix it – or should you? Lessons learned from relying on past performance of mechanical assets.