David Brett, Robert Longey, Jiri Herza
The independent expert review panel for the Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility failure came out strongly recommending changes to the technology of tailings dams in British Columbia (and by inference, world-wide). The Panel had examined the historical risk profile of tailings dams in British Columbia and recommended, amongst other things, that best available technology (BAT) be adopted for tailings disposal. Examples of BAT, described by the panel, included “dry-stacking” of filtered, unsaturated, compacted tailings and reduction in the use of water covers in a closure setting. The recommended technologies would require a major shift in current practice and raises many questions, such as:
– Are these recommendations appropriate in Australia?
– Does this signal the end of the tailings dams as we know them?
– Do the current Australian National Committee on Large Dams Guidelines (ANCOLD) apply to these new BAT technologies?
– If not, is there a role for ANCOLD in setting standards for the future?
This paper discusses the Mt Polley tailings dam failure and searches for answers to these questions. In particular, this paper reviews the background to “dry-stacking’, to explore the implications for the Australian mining industry.
Keywords: Tailings Dam, Dry Stacking, Best Available Technology
Phillip Kennedy, Robert Murphy, Pat Russell, Chi Fai Wan
Central Highlands Water (CHW) owns thirty four dams varying significantly in size, age, and condition. Thirty of the dams are used for water supply purposes with the remainder providing storage for wastewater reuse schemes. Out of the thirty-four dams, eighteen are more than one hundred years old. They are zoned earthfill embankments, some with a puddle clay core. Fourteen of the dams have been assessed as having potentially high to extreme consequences if the dam fails. The key safety issues among these high consequence dams are inadequate flood capacity, slope instability, and high potential for piping.
CHW’s management policy includes a commitment to identify, assess, prioritise improvements to, and periodically review the safety of its dams, and implement a dam safety upgrade works program. CHW’s Water Plan 3 (2013 – 2018 economic regulatory period) includes nine dam safety upgrade projects, which were identified from risk assessments and investigations carried out over several years.
In 2013, CHW and MWH formed a Delivery and Operational Efficiency Review (DOER) Group to refine and confirm priorities for the proposed dam safety upgrades. The main objectives of the DOER Group were to identify solutions to meet current ANCOLD guidelines and any opportunities to achieve 10% – 20% reduction in capital expenditure costs during planning or delivery of the works for Water Plan 3, while achieving the intended risk reduction. The key elements of the DOER were to (1) form a working group to cover operational, planning and executive management considerations together with dam safety consultants and Victorian dam management experience; (2) closely scrutinise previous assessments; (3) challenge the justification for the project; (4) understand the priorities whilst aiming to deliver a major works program; and (5) identify additional investigations.
Initial investigations of the DOER Group developed a revised program of works allowing confirmed capital works to proceed while investigations into other projects were carried out. The follow-up investigations have identified optimal outcomes through a program of cost-effective solutions for CHW.
This paper aims to share the experience from planning the DOER, and the further investigations that resulted in the development of an optimised delivery strategy for the upgrade projects.
Keywords: Delivery and Operational Efficiency Review, Risk.
A. Scuero, G. Vaschetti, J. Cowland, B. Cai , L. Xuan
Nam Ou VI rockfill dam is part of the Nam Ou VI Hydropower Project under construction in Laos. The scheme includes an 88 metres high rockfill dam, designed as a Geomembrane Face Rockfill Dam (GFRD), which when completed will be the highest GFRD in Laos. The only element providing watertightness to the dam is an exposed composite PVC geomembrane, installed according to an innovative design now being increasingly adopted to construct safe rockfill dams at lower costs. The same system will shortly be installed on a water retaining embankment for a coal mine in NSW, Australia, and has been approved for a tailings dam in Queensland, Australia. At Nam Ou VI the geomembrane system is being installed in three separate stages, following construction of the dam. The first two stages have been completed, and the last stage will start in November 2015. The paper, after a brief discussion of the adopted system’s concept, advantages and precedents, focuses on the construction aspects.
Keywords: GFRD, PVC geomembrane, waterproofing, rockfill dam.
Peyman Bozorgmehr, Sarah McComber, David Harrigan, Erik F R Bollaert
Boondooma Dam is a concrete-faced rockfill dam with an unlined, uncontrolled spillway chute. The Acceptable Flood Capacity of Boondooma Dam is 1:60,000 AEP (equal to the Dam Crest Flood (DCF) and has a maximum inflow of 14,330 m3/s.
Significant rainfall events during 2010/11 and 2013 subjected the spillway to moderate discharges over the crest which caused significant scour to the spillway chute.
Following these events, a 3D physical hydraulic model was constructed at a 1:80 scale to investigate repair options. Originally the spillway chute was modelled using a mobile bed set up which showed that that future scour could occur. However, the model could not determine the rate and characteristics of this damage.
In order to determine how future scour may occur, the 3D model was modified using laser survey mapping of the spillway chute after each flood event. Using milled aluminium and concrete capping the model was able to accurately portray the damage profile sustained by the spillway in the 2010/11 and 2013 flood events.
Transient pressure, static pressure, water elevation, velocity and jet measurements of the model were used in a Comprehensive Scour Model to help inform how damage to the chute may progress in future flood events.
Keywords: Boondooma Dam, flood damage, 3D physical hydraulic modelling, comprehensive scour assessment
David Stewart, Shane McGrath & Siraj Perera
Dam safety in Victoria is overseen by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on behalf of the relevant Minister and under the Water Act. For each of the 19 state-owned Water Corporations, Government has issued a Statement of Obligations which describes all responsibilities of the Corporation, including specific reference to dam safety management and ANCOLD Guidelines.
These Corporations report annually to the Department on their compliance with all their obligations, including dam safety management. In late 2014, 13 Water Corporations along with the Department commissioned a comparative benchmarking study of dam safety management practices across the state. This work was facilitated by the VicWater Dams Industry Working Group. The study used a rapid assessment method against 14 separate criteria for dam safety management, based on the Statements of Obligations, guidance notes developed by the Department, ANCOLD Guidelines, the ICOLD Draft Bulletin on Dam Safety Management, good governance principles and examples of best practice from other jurisdictions.
The study involved assessment of background data, site inspections and discussions with various individuals of each owner, including a range of field staff, dam safety staff, Executive Managers, Managing Directors and Board Directors. The benchmarking study covered 142 dams of Significant, High and Extreme Consequence Category throughout Victoria.
The results of the benchmarking study have been extremely useful for individual dam owners and for the Department to understand areas where good practice is in place and also where there is potential for improvement of individual programs. The study also provides a measure of assurance of the current status of dam safety management practices and areas where regulatory practices could be better focused. It also reinforced the importance of strong industry networks such as ANCOLD and VicWater for knowledge transfer, capacity development and sustainability of dam safety management practices.
This paper presents the methodology used for the benchmarking study and its broader findings. It also highlights good practice considerations for dam owners, regulators and other dam safety practitioners.
Keywords: Dam Safety Management, Governance, Benchmarking
Russell Cuerel, Richard Priman, Michel Raymond, Ian Hanks
Following significant flood events across Queensland over the last five years causing significant damage in South East Queensland, Bundaberg Burnett region, St. George in the south west and more recently in Central Queensland in the Callide Valley, there has been renewed interest in finding solutions to flooding issues.
Increasing the available flood storage within a catchment is a well-known method of improving flood mitigation outcomes for developed areas. In many basins/catchments, potential flood storage development options (new storages or augmentations to existing storages) can be identified by reviewing previous water supply investigations and flood studies and by scanning topographic mapping. From such site identification there will often be numerous combinations of possible flood storage development options to consider because of the number of tributaries which may contribute to major flood events.
This paper outlines a methodology to screen, within a relatively short timeframe and at relatively low cost, a large number of identified flood storage development options and combination development scenarios and shortlist for more detailed analysis. The screening process is heavily reliant on hydrologic assessments to rapidly short-list scenarios for assessment and then relies on traditional engineering and economic assessments to do the fine tuning of the analysis.
Keywords: flooding, damages, impacts, flood storage, flood mitigation, dams, benefit-cost ratio.