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
Nikifor Petrovic, Sladoljub Pezerovic
Dam rehabilitation works at the Visegrad Hydropower Project on the River Drina in Bosnia and Herzegovina were completed in October 2014 after two years of very challenging and collaborative effort between the client, designer and contractor.
The successfully accomplished remedial works programme was a highly complex geotechnical intervention. The dam was constructed on a karst foundation extending up to 200 m below reservoir floor level. Rates of seepage through the foundation increased over time, from 1.4 m3/s following first impoundment in 1989, to 14.7 m3/s in 2009.
The rehabilitation works comprised:
Preparatory works (site installation, work platforms, conveyer belts, electricity and water supply, drilling and grouting equipment installation);
Site investigation works (drilling of boreholes, measurements of inclination, geo-physical carotage, downhole video, underwater camera recording);
Installation of monitoring equipment and implementation of real time recording system;
Installation of inert material into a sinkhole within the storage area and into the bore holes located upstream of the dam; and
Grouting of the foundation area using different grout mixes and grouting methods.
During rehabilitation works the main achievements were:
A total of about 37,300 m3 of inert material (granular materials with different fractions from 0 to 32 mm) was installed into the foundation cracks and caverns. This was a significant achievement due to very complex geological conditions and resulted in a seepage reduction through the foundation and improvement of the overall safety and stability of the dam.
The total consumption of grouting material was in access of 2,500 tonnes of cement, bentonite, sand and additives.
After completion of the work, seepage of water through the foundation was reduced to about 4.5 m3/s.
Keywords: Seepage, remedial works, dam, grouting, inert material.
Sarah McComber, Peyman Bozorgmehr
Boondooma Dam is a concrete-faced rockfill dam with an unlined, uncontrolled spillway chute. Construction was scheduled for completion in 1983; however a spill event occurred during the last stage.of construction Following this spill event an Erosion Control Structure (ECS) was built across the spillway chute to help mitigate any future scouring.
The spillway performed as expected during minor spill events in the 1990s and early 2000s. During the significant rainfall event of 2010/11, significant scour occurred to the spillway chute and downstream of the ECS, as a result of the spillway operation.
Following the 2010/11 flood, emergency repairs were made and long term repair solutions were investigated. However, during Tropical Cyclone Oswald in January 2013, the dam experienced the flood of record, and further scour occurred in the spillway chute.
The long term repair solution was reviewed in light of the 2013 damage. A solution is required that would satisfy the engineering problem and prevent further damage, while satisfying the commercial considerations faced by dam owners, insurers, customers and downstream stakeholders.
Keywords: Boondooma Dam, flood damage, scour damage, commercial engineering solutions.
J.H. Green; C. Beesley; C. The and S. Podger
Rare design rainfalls for probabilities less frequent than 1% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) are an essential part of spillway adequacy assessment as they enable more accurate definition of the design rainfall and flood frequency curves between the 1% AEP and Probable Maximum events.
Estimates for rare design rainfalls were previously derived using the CRC-FORGE method which was developed in the 1990s. However, as the method was applied on a state-by-state basis, there are variations in the approach adopted for each region. Differences in the cut-off period for data, the amount of quality controlling of the data undertaken, the base used for the 2% AEP estimates, gridding settings and smoothing processes have created inconsistencies which are particularly apparent in overlapping state border areas.
The Bureau of Meteorology has derived new rare design rainfalls for the whole of Australia using the extensive, quality-controlled rainfall database established for the new Intensity-Frequency-Duration (IFD) design rainfalls. These data have been analysed using a regional LH-moments approach which is more consistent with the method used to derive the new IFDs and which overcomes the limitations of the spatial dependence model in the CRC-FORGE method. In particular, the selection and verification of homogenous regions and the identification of the most appropriate regional probability distribution to adopt relied heavily on the outcomes of the testing of methods undertaken for the new IFDs. However, to focus the analysis on the rarer rainfall events, only the largest events have been used to define the LH-moments.
Keywords: Rare design rainfalls; Intensity-Frequency-Duration (IFD); Annual Exceedance Probability
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
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