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
This paper explores the role of the Lenders’ Technical Advisor (LTA) in identifying and mitigating risks in hydropower dam projects on behalf of the project lenders. It describes the LTA services that are required to manage the pre-financial close, construction and financing periods.
There are differing types of risk in both large and small hydropower projects (contractual, commercial, participant, completion, country, technology, reputational, environmental and social, etc.) and these are discussed with regard to how the lenders may be exposed if the risk eventuates either during dam construction or in operation.
Whereas a large dam for water supply would in its own right be a major project, the dam(s) associated with large hydropower will likely represent less than 25% of the total project cost and with this imbalance comes competing drivers for the other components (tunnels, waterways, powerhouse, M&E equipment, transmission lines, substations, etc).
The paper discusses the typical process whereby a hydropower developer has procured a feasibility study and is working towards financial close — covering both large and small types, i.e. storage dams and run-of-river diversion weir types, and the noticeable trend for fast-tracked developments to make a single large step from feasibility study through to engineer-procure-construct (EPC) contracting. This scenario presents some challenges for the initial due diligence when assessing in the pre-financial close stage.
The paper draws on case studies from the Asia Pacific region to illustrate the key elements in hydropower project financing from the LTA’s perspective, together with the author’s recent and current experience on multiple hydropower projects across Asia and Africa in the run-of-river, storage reservoir and pumped storage type of plants. It also brings together findings from the author’s own recent papers on the subjects of hydropower feasibility studies, the roles of lenders, owners and advisors, and tailored for an ANCOLD audience where the focus is on the dams component of hydropower.
Keywords: Lenders’ Technical Advisor, Dams, Hydropower.
Kim Robinson, Andrew Pattle and Thomas Shurvell
Rowallan Dam is a 43m high clay core rock fill dam located in Northern Tasmania. The dam impounds 121GL used for hydro power generation and has a High A consequence category.
Over the summer of 2014/15 major reconstruction works were carried out on the dam to repair a piping incident from 1968. The work entailed reconstructing two sections of the dam down to foundation level and the upper 7m of the 568m dam crest. During the work, the dam was temporarily exposed to a significantly increased flood overtopping risk.
A range of measures were taken to manage the overtopping risk; such as increasing the dewatering capacity of the dam, lake draw down, installation of a sheetpile wall, development of emergency backfill procedures and a flood forecasting system.
The focus of this paper is on the flood forecasting system and how this was integrated into the overall management of overtopping risk during construction. The forecast models were run automatically on a 2 hour schedule using the latest BoM forecast, telemetered lake levels and rainfall from 7 gauges surrounding the catchment. The system provided a continuous 7 day lake level forecast which guided the site team on when to release water to manage the storage.
In the event that the lake level forecast reached a predetermined trigger level, the dam safety team would have been automatically notified and various emergency procedures would have been triggered in response to the flood warning.
This paper discusses the measures that were taken to manage the flood risk, how it worked in practice and conclusions which are applicable more generally to managing overtopping risk during dam works.
Keywords: dam construction flood risk, flood forecasting
Nihal Vitharana, Nuno Ferreira
The raising and/or stabilising of existing concrete gravity dams by continuous concrete buttressing is a viable solution and, in some cases, it is the only solution available. There are few medium-large dams in Australia currently under consideration for raising with continuous buttressing.
Two of the major issues to be surmounted are: (a) the existing dam should not be subjected to cracking (particularly on the upstream face) due to heat-hydration effects, and (b) the requirement for the two dam bodies to resist the hydrostatic and other loadings as a monolith (unified dam).
However, there is great need for understanding the mechanisms involved in selecting an appropriate heat-of-hydration model and in calculating thermal stresses rationally. Due to such lack of understanding, expensive precautions, mostly with compounding conservatisms, would be adopted in concept and detailed designs eg. shear-keys on the interface, artificial cooling, post-grouted interface, anchor bars at the interface, concrete with high cement contents. On the other hand, unsafe designs could be the result.
The paper discusses these issues highlighting that a rational approach can be adopted to economise the design and construction processes. An example is also presented to demonstrate how the potential for temperature-induced cracking in new and old dam bodies can be evaluated with reduced uncertainty by considering all the mechanisms involved in a holistic way.
Keywords: Heat-of-Hydration modelling, raising concrete dams, thermal stresses, concrete buttressing
Michael Bassett-Foss , David Bouma , Dewi Knappstein
The Wairarapa Water Use Project (WWUP) in the southern North Island, New Zealand, is investigating new water storage schemes involving large dams that will allow the community to make use of the water resources that are currently available, but not necessarily available at the time they are needed. It is estimated that the 12,000 hectares currently irrigated in the Wairarapa could be increased to about 42,000 hectares depending on actual demand. The WWUP provides for a range of possible needs, such as supply of new areas of irrigation, increased reliability for existing irrigation and frost fighting, environmental augmentation of low summer river flows, environmental flushing flows, stock drinking water, power generation, municipal water supply, and recreational use.
WWUP objectives include early engagement of stakeholders, early integration of financial, social, cultural and environmental factors in decision-making, management of uncertainty associated with the preliminary level of investigation and evolving regulatory framework, development of an equitable framework for efficiently comparing options, and balancing long and short-term considerations.
A large number of dam options were identified, storing 3 to 80 million m3 of water, and progressively narrowed to a shortlist of 2 sites through a complex process of concept development, desktop studies, site visits, hydrological analyses, cost estimates and multi-criteria analyses.
The WWUP demonstrates how sustainable new major water storage schemes can be promoted in a highly regulated environment of a developed nation.
Keywords: Dams, water storage, stakeholder engagement, environment, water allocation, multi-criteria analysis
Makeena Kiugu, Siraj Perera
Dam owners are influenced by drivers such as ensuring economic efficiency, achieving industry good practice, and meeting regulatory or due diligence obligations when making decisions on how to manage their dams. While these drivers can be inter-related, the decisions finally made by dam owners are reflected in planned and completed dam safety activities.
In Victoria, dam owners update the regulator on the status of their dam safety management programs every year. Victorian dam safety regulation is underpinned by risk management principles. Benchmarking of dam safety management practices is also promoted within the industry. The information provided to the regulator includes risk levels of dams, scheduled upgrades and associated cost estimates, interim risk reduction measures, and details of surveillance, emergency management and operation and maintenance programs. A considerable amount of information has been collected over the past few years allowing trends in dam safety management activities to be examined at a State-wide level.
This paper will consider how dam safety management decisions, and the drivers behind those decisions, are reflected in the dam safety practices of Victorian dam owners. Trends in dam safety activities will be observed and linkages made to prevailing industry-wide challenges.
Dam owners are increasingly being required to address a wider range of issues in an environment of limited resources. Ensuring due diligence and improving emergency preparedness are some current challenges facing dam owners. This paper also examines how these emerging drivers may influence dam safety activities into the future.
Keywords: Dam safety management