Robert Kingsland, Michelle Black, Andrew Russell
Managing the vibration impacts associated with blasting is a challenge for mine planners and operators. In an open cut mining environment production blasting is often an integral part of operations. The management of surface water is a key operational requirement for open cut pits and mine water dams are often a part of the water management infrastructure. Consequently, mine water dams are often subject to blasting impacts.
For the mine operator the foremost questions are, “how close can mine blasting progress towards the dam?” and “what is the maximum vibration that the structure can be safely subjected to?” For the dam safety regulator the key concerns are around potential modes of failure, consequence of failure, the likelihood of failure and the management of risk.
With reference to case studies, this paper will discuss the acceptable blasting limits for earth dams, impacts on various dam elements and failure mode analysis. Failures modes discussed include embankment cracking, slope failure and deformation, foundation cracking and outlet structure cracking. Risk mitigation measures will be presented including design, operation and monitoring controls.
Keywords: blasting impacts, embankment dams, coal mine.
The enlargement of the Cotter Dam is being undertaken by ACTEW to provide a greater security of water supply to Canberra. The project involves constructing a larger, higher new dam wall immediately downstream of the existing Cotter Dam, to allow the present dam to continue functioning and supplying water while construction is underway. The project raised a number of environmental issues partly because the Cotter Dam currently supports a self-sustaining population of (endangered) Macquarie Perch, and because the Bendora Dam, upstream of Cotter Dam, contains a breeding population of (endangered) Trout Cod. Bendora Dam will not be physically affected by the works on Cotter Dam, but its operations may be altered. An ecological risk analysis was conducted to identify critical environmental risks that would need to be investigated and managed or ameliorated and management strategies were put in place to reduce risks. ACTEW have adopted an adaptive management approach to the project, but in order to implement that approach it is necessary to conduct effective monitoring of the fish populations of concern. These potentially include the two endangered species, as well as potential predators (such as cormorants) and competitors (such as trout). Power analysis has been used as a tool to evaluate whether it is feasible to monitor key populations sufficiently rigorously to be able to confidently detect a change (either an increase or decrease in a population). For Macquarie Perch and trout it should be possible to detect population changes statistically with a logistically feasible monitoring program.
2011 – Using risk analysis, power analysis and adaptive management to minimise ecological impacts of the Cotter Dam enlargement
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
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
Richard R. Davidson, Joergen Pilzand Bruce Brown
Recent earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand and Japan have created a new focus on the safe design of tailings dams in seismic regions of the world. Building sand and rockfill embankments to sustain large ground motions and provide crucial drainage of excess pore pressures remain daunting challenges at each site. Are conventional hydraulic deposition practices still viable? What new technologies can be considered? Addressing seismic stability of existing upstream method tailings dams whether currently in operation or closed is stretching our seismic geotechnical engineering profession to its limits of understanding of behaviour. Creating a safe, secure environmental storage must also be integrated with the geotechnical and hydrologic concerns. Is there a viable risk context to consider these competing issues? This paper will raise these issues within the international context and suggest a prudent path forward.
2011 – The Challenges of Building Tailings Dams in Seismic Regions