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
Chris Topham, Andrew Pattle, David Tanner, Oliver Giudici
Many owners around the world have dams that rely on grouted, post-tensioned rock anchors for stability. The anchors were installed during the original construction of the dams or retrofitted to improve stability during their operational life. The use of fully grouted post-tensioned anchors spanned the period of the 1960’s to 1980’s. The main issue with these un-sheathed grouted rock anchors is the question of integrity of the grout column protecting the anchor and concerns about possible corrosion of the high tensile wires from which the cables are constructed. While some of these anchors have corrosion monitoring systems installed, it is difficult to validate such data and there is considerable uncertainty over the condition of such anchors. To compound the problem, replacement of the anchors is technically complex, extremely costly and difficult to justify in the absence of known condition. For example, Hydro Tasmania has recent experience of work to cease reliance on such anchors at Catagunya Dam that cost $41m in 2009. With fifteen dams relying on some form of post-tensioned anchors, Hydro Tasmania has recently taken the unusual step of over-coring and extracting three post-tensioned rock anchors from operating dams in order to assess their condition. In what is believed to be a world first, a 42m long 70 strand high tensile anchor was overcored and removed from Meadowbank Dam in 2014. A further two anchors were successfully extracted from Repulse Dam in 2015, in conjunction with a group of international sponsors with similar anchors. This paper uses the 2015 work to illustrate the methodology used to extract the anchors, outlines the information gained from this unusual work, and presents the results of the condition of the extracted anchors. The paper concludes with some inferences for other owners with similar anchors and suggestions for further work.
Keywords: Grouted, post-tensioned rock anchor, ground anchor, corrosion, over-coring, extraction, dam safety.
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
Vicki-Ann Dimas, Wayne Peck, Gary Gibson and Russell Cuthbertson
Globally, reservoir triggered seismicity (RTS) is a phenomenon sometimes observed in newly constructed large dams worldwide, for over 50 years now. Over 95 sites have been identified to have caused RTS by the infilling of water reservoirs upon completion of their constructions worldwide. In Australia, there are seven confirmed sites with observed RTS phenomenon that are summarized by temporal and spatial means.
With almost 40 years of seismic monitoring, primarily within eastern Australia, several of Australia’s largest dams have monitored and recorded many RTS events. At present, twelve dams are 100 metres and above in height as possible candidates, with seven of these actually causing RTS and a disputed possible eighth dam.
Important factors of RTS are reservoir characteristics (depth of the water column and reservoir volume), geological and tectonic features (how active nearby faults are and how close to the next cycle of stress release they are temporally) and ground water pore pressure (decrease in pore volume under compaction of weight of reservoir and diffusion of reservoir water through porous rock beneath). RTS is an adjustment process often delayed for several years after infilling of reservoir before eventually subsiding within 10 to 30 years, when seismic activity then returns to its prior state of stress.
Generally there are two type of RTS events, either a major fault near the reservoir most likely leading to an earthquake exceeding magnitude 5.0 to 6.0, or more commonly, a series of small shallow earthquakes.
Seismic monitoring of all dams (except for Ord River) are presented with spatial and temporal series of maps and cross sections, showing the largest earthquake, build-up and decay of RTS events.
Keywords: Seismic monitoring, reservoir triggered seismicity (RTS), earthquake cycle
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
Jason Fowler, Robert Wark
Tropical Forestry Services (TFS) currently (2015) leases Arthur Creek Dam from the West Australian state government and utilises the water source to drip irrigate its Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) plantation. Arthur Creek Dam is located approximately 70 km south west of Kununurra in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. TFS grows and processes the sandalwood to produce oil that is used extensively in the global fragrance perfume market. TFS took over the lease of the 26 m high zoned earth core and rock fill dam in 2007 and has systematically carried out remedial works to the structure to lower the f-N curve below the ANCOLD “Limit of Tolerability” and to well within the ALARP zone. This paper describes the proactive risk management approach TFS has undertaken to address dam safety issues. It also specifically describes the most recent management issue, being the outlet pipe refurbishment.
A number of dam safety issues were identified during the initial surveillance and subsequent annual surveillance inspections. Issues include insufficient spillway capacity, seepage from the right abutment and deterioration of the steel outlet pipe. The remedial works to the outlet pipe were completed in late 2014 and involved close collaboration between TFS, the contractor and the designer. The outlet pipe re-sleeving operation was complex as the dam had to remain in operation and the water level could not be artificially lowered. In addition, the original outlet pipe was asymmetrical along both the vertical and horizontal axes, close to the bulkhead gate structure. Contingency measures were employed to enable the dam to remain in operation with 3 DN 400 HDPE siphon pipes installed.
The completion of the refurbishment of the outlet pipe by sleeving the pipe reduced the risk posed by this structure by an order of magnitude. Planned future risk reduction measures include the treatment of seepage within the upper right abutment and rebuilding the crest. These actions will further reduce the risk of dam failure through piping and overtopping of the dam crest.
Keywords: risk, ALARP, outlet pipe, re-sleeving.