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
Lesa Delaere, Ivor Stuart, Thomas Ewing, David Marsh
As part of Wide Bay Water’s commitment to minimising environmental impacts of its water supply weirs, a “Nature Like” Fishway is under development for the Burrum No 1 Weir. This project is a fishway offset provision for the raising of Lenthalls Dam in the upper reaches of the Burrum River in Hervey Bay. The Burrum No 1 weir forms the primary pumping pool for the Hervey Bay water supply and is located at the tidal limit of the Burrum River. Understanding fish biology and behaviour is critical to the effectiveness of the design of a fishway as much as the balance between the goals of maximising fish passage versus cost, construction and operational difficulties that a fish passage solution may present.
This paper presents the aquatic ecology of the project and the inter-relationship of fish biology and river flow frequency. It discusses the fish species of the Burrum River, their behaviour, seasonal migration and criteria for successful passage. It presents the analysis of river flows with respect to frequency and headwater/tailwater relationships to weir drownout, which was complicated by the tidal flow regimes downstream of the weir. These aspects were also applied in consideration of river behaviour; low flow characteristics for fishway operation during dry seasons and drought, and high flow characteristics during the wet season and floods.
The biological needs for successful fish passage for two very different river flow characteristics were analysed. This allowed targeted design criteria and fishway solution to be developed to provide maximum benefit without causing undue cost to the project.
Burrum Weir Fishway – Fish Biology and River Flows: Two Faces
M. A. Hariri Ardebili, M. Akbari and H. Mirzabozorg
This paper presents a study on the effects of incoherence (considering the Harichandran and Vanmarcke coherency model) and wave-passage (considering various wave velocities) on the nonlinear responses of concrete arch dams . A double curvature arch dam was selected as numerical example, the reservoir was modeled as incompressible material and the foundation was modeled as a mass-less medium. Ground motion time-histories were artificially generated based on a Monte Carlo simulation approach. Four different models were considered in the generation of ground motions; Uniform excitation; Just incoherence effect; Just wave passage effect; and finally take into account both incoherence and wave passage effects. It was revealed that modeling incoherency can have significant effect on the structural response of the dam by modifying the dynamic response of uniform excitation and inducing pseudo-static response. Also, it was concluded that incoherency effect overshadow wave passage effect and results caused by wave passage effect are close to the results of uniform excitation.
2011 – Comparison of wave passage and incoherence effects on nonlinear non-uniform excitation of concrete arch dams
Kirsty Carroll, Kelly Maslin, Richard Rodd
Melbourne Water manages over 210 retarding basins across Greater Melbourne ranging in size from 4ML to 4700 ML with embankment heights from 0.3m to 10m. Over the years the basins have been designed and constructed by a range of different owners and authorities. Varying design and construction standards with the majority of retarding basins generally being located in highly urbanised areas, has resulted in Melbourne Water having a large portfolio of assets that have potential to pose a significant risk to the downstream communities they are designed to protect.
High level hazard category assessments completed over the last10 years identified that approximately 90 structures were either High or Extreme hazard categories based on the ANCOLD Guidelines on Assessment of the Consequences of Dam Failure.
In an attempt to identify retarding basins requiring priority consideration for remedial works Melbourne Water embarked on a process of completing a dam safety risk assessment for five of the retarding basins in accordance with the ANCOLD Guidelines on Risk Assessment. The objective of the risk assessment was to develop an understanding of the key risk issues that might affect retarding basins as distinct from water supply storages, identify potential remedial works and develop a prioritised risk management strategy for the five basins considered. In completing the risk assessment there was also significant discussion about ways to streamline the process to allow assessment of the remaining basins.
This paper details the results obtained from the risk assessment, investigates the application of the base safety condition and implementation of a risk management strategy. It also looks at similarities between sites to enable common upgrades to be implemented across the range of retarding basins. This paper also discusses the need for guidelines specific to retarding basins to be developed.
How do you solve a problem like retarding basins? An asset owner’s perspective