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.
Jiri Herza and John Phillips
The design of dams for mining projects requires processes and technology that are unfamiliar to many mine owners and managers. Dam designers rely on ANCOLD assessments of Consequence Category, commonly leading to a High rating for mining dams due to a combination of potential loss of life, impact on environment and damage to assets such as mine voids, process plants, workshops, offices, roads, railways etc.
From this High Consequence Category the relevant annual exceedance probabilities for design parameters and loading conditions such as earthquakes and floods are selected.
Mining companies have sophisticated methods available for assessing risk, yet for their assets they often adopt an order of magnitude lower security for earthquake and floods even though the consequences in terms of lives at risk and impact on project are similar.
The discrepancies in the design standards lead to situations where extreme dam loads are adopted to prevent damage and loss of life in assets that theoretically would have already collapsed under much lower loads.
One difference may be that some mining dams exist in an environment which is controlled by a single entity. Unlike other dams, failure of these mining dams would therefore impact only individuals and assets which fall under the responsibility of the same entity.
This paper discusses the discrepancies between the design of mining dams and the design of other mine infrastructure. The paper considers the impact of discrepancies on the overall risk to the mine and compares the degree of protection offered by a factor of safety and the influence of reliability of design input parameters, alternate load paths and design redundancy.
Keywords: Dams, tailings dams, mining, acceptable risk, factors of safety
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
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.
P C Blersch, W van Wyk , R Steenkamp
Construction of the partially completed Calueque Dam on the Cunene River in Angola was abandoned in 1976 due to the hostilities in Angola. In 1988 the dam was bombed, causing significant damage to the bridge deck, other structures and equipment. Work to complete and rehabilitate the dam commenced in late 2012 and included major earthworks, extensive concrete repairs and refurbishment and installation of mechanical equipment, including ten spillway radial gates and two outlet gates with lifting equipment, emergency gates and cranes, including electrical and control systems. A number of challenges were encountered in planning and executing the project but were overcome largely as a result of detailed historical project information having been retained well beyond the norm and through the involvement of a key member of the original project team in the current project.
Keywords: Dam rehabilitation, radial gates, zoned earthfill embankment
Since their development, rock mass classification systems have used and manipulated various populations of geomechanical data to allow a rock mass to be divided into different domains or engineering ‘masses’ with the aim of assisting in the geotechnical design of underground openings, excavations, foundations and ground support systems.
Each of these methods consider different characteristics to generate a material classification; including rock strength, joint weathering, defect spacing, in-situ stress and groundwater. However, none of these systems cater for classification of the rock mass based on whole rock weathering, whole rock strength and incipient defect spacing along a borehole.
This new classification system, the Rock Condition Number (RCN), has been developed to reduce the human factor of variability in interpretation when collecting data to classify the rock mass, as other methods, such as Rock Quality Designation (RQD), are prone to significant variability based on the experience of the person logging the core. RQD provides an indication of rock quality over the length of the cored interval, which varies depending on the drilling equipment and ground conditions. This value may typically be calculated over an interval of 1.0, 1.5 or 3.0 metres. The RQD system does not allow for the rapid identification of thin, though important features in the subsurface.
Using data captured electronically in the field, the RCN calculates an instantaneous classification of the rock mass at any point along the borehole, highlighting variations within the rock mass by assessing a combination of characteristics, allowing rapid identification of potential hazardous zones within the rock mass. This allows for significant improvements in efficiency during the assessment and design process/es. Resolution is greatly improved over RQD, with thin, though important, zones of weak material highlighted using this new process.
Comparison between existing classifications and the RCN using real field data indicates the RCN provides greater resolution when identifying deficient zones within the rock mass.
Keywords: Rock mass characterisation, RQD, Rock Condition Number, rock quality, dam foundations.