This paper will present the use of Root Cause Analysis (RCA) as a means of evaluating the causes for failure modes and is based on work completed for an upstream tailings storage facility (TSF) raise where significant transverse and longitudinal cracking was observed.
The design of the TSF was based on the use of a starter wall with perimeter discharge from spigots spaced at about 25 m centres along the upstream crest. The TSF was raised using an upstream design and during routine inspections two years after completion of the raise, transverse cracks of up to 30 mm were noted on the crest and longitudinal cracks up to 40 mm width were noted on the downstream slope of the raised embankments. Concerns were raised over the extent and depth of the transverse cracking and the risks they pose to piping, seepage and containment.
Field investigations including test pitting and material testing were completed to evaluate the depth and extent of the cracking. The findings from field investigations, together with a review of the historical aerial photographs and superposition of the cracks and the locations of the spigots were then used in a Root Cause Analysis workshop.
Discussions on all causes for the cracking, asking the question “why did the problem occur?”, and then continuing to ask “why that happened?” until the fundamental process element that failed was reached”.
During the workshop, the most significant contributors for the transverse and longitudinal cracking and the likely location, extent and size of the cracks were evaluated. This identified the potential for traditional structural hog and sag bending moments causing the transverse crest cracking with the potential for transverse cracking at the interface of the raise and the original tailings. This was not previously identified as a potential piping location. The longitudinal cracking was considered to be mainly owing to settlement of the upstream tailings.
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Sean Ladiges, Robert Wark, Richard Rodd
The use of permanent, load-monitorable post-tensioned, anchors for dam projects has been in place for approximately 35 years in Australia. Since then, over 30 large Australian dams have been strengthened using this technology, including the world record for anchor length (142 m – Canning Dam, WA) and size (91×15.7 mm strands – Wellington Dam, WA and Catugunya Dam, TAS).
In order to achieve the design life of 100 years expected of these anchors, an ongoing program of monitoring, testing and maintenance is required, to identify and rectify the initiation of corrosion or loss of pre-stress. Guidance for maintenance and testing regime for post-tensioned anchors in dams is provided in the ANCOLD Guidelines on Dam Safety Management (2003). The various conditions which may affect the performance of the anchor with time, such as anchor type, ground condition and loading fluctuations are not covered in the Guideline.
This paper reviews the implementation and results of anchor monitoring programs by Australian dam owners. The first part of this paper provides a summary of the testing and monitoring programs currently being implemented. The second part of the paper reviews the aggregated anchor load test results from a number of Australian dam owners, and identifies trends in anchor response over time following installation.
The paper aims to assess whether the recommended anchor testing regime proposed in ANCOLD (2003) is appropriate and cost effective, using evidence from recent load test data which has become available following the writing of the guideline. The lessons learnt from anchor maintenance programs will also be discussed.
Russell Mills PhD,Rebecca Freeman, Malcolm Barker
The global mining industry lives with the risk of catastrophic events such as water storage or tailings dam failures as part of its daily operations, and has developed a number of approaches to enable mine management to understand the nature of the risks and the ways in which they are being managed. One such approach involves the use of bowties for the understanding of the hazards and risks. Building from bowties, the second approach involves the selection and management of controls critical to the prevention or mitigation of the catastrophic event. The Australian mining industry is a world leader in this regard and the purpose of this paper is to illustrate how bowties are constructed, how risks can be semi-quantitatively estimated, how critical controls are selected and managed, and how, if all this is done well, risks can be demonstrated to be as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).
This paper sets out key themes and presents an example for a tailings dam failure to illustrate the role of bowties and critical controls in management of catastrophic events. It will also highlight the role of bowties in the anticipated introduction of a Safety Case approach to dam risk management. Bowties provide a useful tool for the transfer of risk management knowledge from the designer, to allow dam owner / operators to better understand their risks and to recognise the link between design and operational controls and how they are used to manage those risks to ALARP.
Jason Needham, John Sorensen, Dennis Mileti, Simon Lang
The potential loss of life from floods, including those caused by dam failure, is sensitive to assumptions about warning and evacuation of the population at risk. Therefore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers engaged with social scientists to better understand the process of warning and mobilizing communities that experience severe flooding. This improved understanding enables dam owners to better assess the existing risk posed by their assets and investigate non-structural risk reduction measures alongside structural upgrades.
In this paper, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers research is summarised to provide general guidance on the warning and mobilization of populations at risk for practitioners assessing the potential loss of life from dam failure. This includes commentary and quantification of three primary timeframes: warning issuance delay, warning diffusion, and protective action initiation. A questionnaire for estimating these parameters is also introduced, alongside a case study application for an Australian dam.
This paper also summarises the current understanding of how to reduce delays in determining when to issue warnings, increase speed at which warnings spread through communities, and decrease the time people spend before taking the recommended protective action. These insights will help all people involved with emergency management, including those tasked with developing Dam Safety Emergency Plans.
David Piccolo, Gareth Swarbrick, Garry Mostyn, Bruce Hutchison, Rodd Brinkmann
Hillgrove Resources owns and operates Kanmantoo copper mine some 44 km southeast of Adelaide.
An important feature of the mine is its tailings storage facility (TSF) which is fully lined with HDPE, and double lined at the base, fully under drained, has a secondary underdrainage system for leak detection and a multi-staged centralised decant system. This onerous design of the TSF was developed in consultation with DMITRE between 2007 and 2010 amid concerns of groundwater protection and effective water management.
The Authors were approached in 2010, following construction of the initial stage of the TSF, and charged with developing the design to increase storage from 13 to 20 million tonnes, as well as optimising the design and construction of future stages.
This paper presents the more interesting aspects of the design and construction optimisation between 2010 and 2016 including:
The design and construction approaches have been scrutinised and accepted by regulatory authorities, and implemented by the mine operator over a period of 6 years. The paper includes lessons learnt during the implementation process.
D Stephens and P Hill
Dambreak modelling and consequence assessment is a key component of many dam safety related studies. The outputs from these assessments can be used to inform the consequence category, dam safety emergency planning, risk-based surveillance and dam safety risk assessment. These studies are complex, intensive and expensive to complete, and all too often there is a need to manipulate or extrapolate the results of these assessments to fit a purpose other than what they were intended for. This issue is particularly prevalent for risk assessment, where the likelihood calculations are directly tied to analysis of the key failure modes, but consequences may be taken from previous studies which were not informed by failure mode selection. The result of this mismatch may lead to inefficiencies and uncertainties in preparing the risk estimates. Subtle changes to the timing or scope of the original dambreak modelling and consequence assessments, at relatively small incremental cost, may help to prevent these issues arising for future studies. Advice is provided on specific issues such as the determination of the downstream extent of the dambreak modelling, selection of the dambreak modelling scenarios and reconciliation of the consequence assessment results with flood and seismic loading partitions for risk assessment. It is hoped that the advice provided will lead to an overall increase in the efficiency and value for money of these studies.