Matthew Ind, Kate Brand and Mark Ferrier
The framework for undertaking a dam breach analysis for water dams is reasonably well established with a depth of information and software available to guide practitioners on a consistent approach to undertaking failure impact assessments. In contrast, dam breach modelling for tailings dams is currently a developing field with a wide range of modelling approaches taken and an inconsistency in the quality of the failure impact assessments undertaken. Recent tailings dam failures at the Mt Polley Mine in British Columbia, Canada and the Fundäo and Santarém dams at the Samarco iron ore operation in Minas Gerais, Brazil have provided a sobering reminder of the hazards presented by tailings dams and the clean-up challenges that are significantly more complex than a similar failure of a water dam.
Current guidelines and approaches to dam breach modelling are often done assuming the run-out material from the breach is just water without due consideration of the impact from tailings loss. There is limited analysis undertaken on credible failure modes of tailings dams with an assumption that the embankment just “breaks” at some random point without appreciation of the failure mechanism. The misunderstanding of failure modes leads onto inconsistencies with application on whether a ‘sunny-day’ or extreme flood event modelling should be applied, with one or the other selected without explanation.
This paper outlines a framework that can be applied when undertaking a dam breach study for tailings dams to enable a consistent and credible assessment of potential failure impacts. The following tasks are discussed in detail in support of this framework:
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
Conrad Ginther, Colleen Stratford
The Wyaralong Dam Alliance (WDA), a consortium of seven engineering and contracting companies, was contracted to design and construct the Wyaralong Dam, which impounds the Teviot Brook 14 km from Beaudesert in Queensland, Australia. The dam is an approximately 500 metre long, 48 metre high Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) structure built on a foundation generally consisting of massive sandstone with intermittent conglomerate zones consisting of cemented gravels, mudclasts and sands. Geologic features of note with regard to dam stability and long term seepage at the site are dominated by downstream sloping bedding features and conglomerate zones. In addition to the bedding-related features, two predominant vertical to subvertical fracture sets exist. The condition of the vertical fractures ranges from tight and fresh at depth to highly weathered and filled with dispersive clay and gravels near the foundation surface. To provide a durable and effective long term seepage barrier for the dam, an extensive foundation cleaning and treatment operation was undertaken. This comprised drilling, blasting, and excavation of the majority of the highly weathered rock and dispersive materials supplemented by localized installation of small cut-offs and dental concrete and the construction of a double-line grout curtain installed using real time computer monitoring, the GIN methodology, and balanced, stable grout mixes.
Foundation Preparation and Seepage Barrier Installation at Wyaralong Dam Construction Project
T. Mortimer, J. McNicol, P. Keefer, W. Ludlow
CS Energy’s Kogan Creek Coal Mine located in the Surat Basin in Queensland, services the 750MW coal fired, Kogan Creek Power Station. Strip mining generates large volumes of mine waste which is typically used to construct waste dumps. Recent work at the mine has focused on using mine waste to construct an ash storage facility to store ash that is piped over 5 km from the power station as a dense phase slurry. The use of mine waste to construct the ash storage facility provides significant cost and time savings, however a range of design, construction and operation issues needed to be addressed to operate a facility of this type.
This paper describes some of the key design, construction and operation considerations for the ash storage facility. Design considerations include pipeline transport through environmentally sensitive areas, addressing the stability of the embankment and the use of a partial LLDPE geomembrane lining system to reduce the risk of seepage from the storage. Construction considerations include post construction (pre ash deposition) floor treatment to reduce potential settlement. Operational considerations include ash slurry deposition, water management of the decant pond and progressive rehabilitation of the final landform.
2011 – Design, Construction and Operation of a Partially Lined, Ash Storage Facility Constructed from Mine Waste
Rod Westmore, Andrew George& Robert Wilson
A 2007 risk assessment of Hume Dam concluded that the dam did not satisfy the ANCOLD societal risk criteria for existing dams. The Spillway Southern Junction (SSJ) and its associated failure modes was one of the main contributors to the risk profile.
Upgrade works at the SSJ involved the retro-installation of additional filter and drainage materials in the 40m high embankment immediately downstream of the tower block and central core wall by installation of more than 10,000m of secant caisson drilled columns backfilled with filter and/or drainage materials.
This paper describes the design and construction issues associated with the upgrade works, the equipment and methodologies developed to achieve the principal design objectives of coverage and connectivity of filter and drainage columns, and optimisation of compaction of the backfill materials. It also describes how these requirements were met whilst minimising adverse affects such as vertical deviation, excessive vibration, subsidence of secant filter columns during construction, and clay smearing of the perimeter of individual columns.
Hume Dam Spillway Southern Junction Filter and Drainage Works