Mark Stephen Rynhoud, David Johns and Len Murray
The Hamata tailings storage facility at the Hidden Valley mine is being constructed in a remote, high rainfall, tropical environment in a mountainous region of Papua New Guinea. Implementation of the design hasrequired adapting the design in response to various challenges encountered on the site during the ongoing construction period, based on observations by the designers and site monitoring data which is continuously collected and compared against design assumptions. This paper describes some of the design and construction modifications which have been implemented since construction of the tailings facility started and provides a case history of some of the challenges facing designers and construction crews when mining in remote, tropical conditions.
There is increased pressure from stakeholders for projects to include evaluation of emerging broader development issues within the environmental assessment process. These emerging issues are not well documented or understood and at the forefront of untested preliminary government policy positions.
Agencies expect proponents to invest in evaluating these matters outside of typical assessment practices. Requests are made late in the evaluation and approval process.Assessmen involves matters not directly related to the project or within the proponent’s control and occurs late in the project development cycle.
The Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project (LFRIP) was identified through the Central Queensland Regional Water Supply Study in 2006, as a solution to secure future water supplies for the Rockhampton, Capricorn Coast and Gladstone regions. The Gladstone Area Water Board and SunWater Limited, as proponents, propose to raise the existing Eden Bann Weir and construct a new weir at Rookwood on the Fitzroy River in Central Queensland.
The LFRIP environmental impact statement (EIS) was approved, subject to conditions, by the Queensland Coordinator-General in December 2016 and the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Energy in February 2017. Achieving conditions that will realise positive environmental outcomes while simultaneously achieving project objectives, particularly with regard to timeframes and costs, was not without its challenges.
The EIS was developed in accordance with the requirements of the State Development Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (Qld) and the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including an extensive stakeholder consultation programme. These regulatory requirements are well understood and applied to projects as normal accepted practice. They ensured that potential project impacts and benefits were identified, that appropriate levels of effort were applied to investigations to establish baseline conditions and that risks to and impacts on environmental (including social and cultural) matters were adequately mitigated and managed.
The environment is not static. Emerging issues and perceptions results in regulation and policy changes in response to political and social drivers. During the development of the EIS both new legislation and new policies were imposed on the project.New legislation resulted in additional assessment around matters previously considered mitigated and managed (fish passage). New legislation introduced new matters for assessment (connectivity). Collaboration and engagement with stakeholders were key to understanding the applicability of these elements to the project and for developing an approach to address the legislative requirements late in the project’s development and assessment process.
In Queensland,policy is emerging to mitigate and manage impacts of development on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area’s universal values. The EIS was required to address the direct project impacts on water quality and the impacts arising because of the LFRIP (facilitated development). Water secured by the LFRIP is for urban, industrial and agricultural purposes. Urban and industrial developments are well regulated and subject to specific environmental approvals processes. Use of water for agricultural purposes, intensive irrigated agriculture in particular,is less regulated. Policies developed are reactive and require individual projects to address these impacts.In the absence of regulatory guidelines for assessment of consequential impacts, the project adopted a collaborative approach. The proponents established a working group, including State and Commonwealth technical agencies. This allowed for robust and scientifically defendable methodologies to be developed and agreed upfront. Streamlining the approach by including key decision makers assisted in managing expectations and focused the assessment on realistic and achievable outcomes relative to the project. The result was defendable outcomes allowing timely decision making and avoided rework as much as possible.
This paper describes developments in environmental assessment relating to new and augmented weirs.
Paul Southcott,Suraj Neupane and David Krushka
TasWater owns and operates the water supply in Queenstown on the west coast of Tasmania. Anew water treatment plant was constructed downstream from one of the seven small dams that made up the original supply system, making the remaining six dams redundant.Two of these dams hada very high annual probability of failure and unacceptable societal life and financial risk due to their poor condition.Both dams required urgent attention (upgrade) to retain them as a lasting asset and legacy for the community or decommissioning to create a new ecological legacy.Roaring Meg Dam (6m high with a 9ML capacity) was constructed on Roaring Meg Creek around 1963. The Cutten Street Dam No 3 (10m high with a 2.4ML capacity) was constructed on Reservoir Creek around 1902to supply water to a growing mining community and had been in use since then. From a heritage perspective, the dam had some value as a timber crib and rockfill dam and its historical context as a key factor in the development of the town.There is limited guidance in the ANCOLD (2003) Dam Safety Management Guidelines on decommissioning and a process had to be developed in cooperation with the Regulator in this relatively new area of dam engineering. Detailed design of the decommissioning including diversion work during decommissioning, channel design to align with the original creek to help restore its ecological function and rehabilitation work on the exposed reservoir soils to stabilise them were undertaken. Aboriginal and historic heritage studies, flora & fauna studies and fluvio-geomorphological study at the dam sites were also undertaken to ensure that the decommissioning work did not interfere with the heritage, threatened species and riparian processes. The community were consulted to ensure acceptance of the changes to their town. Dam safety emergency management plans for the decommissioning of these dams was were also prepared. A significant issue in the decommissioning work was frequent and high rainfall due to the location of these dams on the west coast of Tasmania. The entire dam removal work had to be planned within the window of dry weather or very little rainfall. This paper presents the process, activities and lessons learned in successfully decommissioning these dams,to eliminate the unacceptably high risks posed by these dams and to restore the normal riparian processes.The general approach adopted for this project has applicability for other damsandis proposed as a starting point for an ANCOLD practice note in this area
Alberto Scuero, Giovanna Lilliu, Marco Scarella, Gabriella Vaschetti
Hardfill dams present technical and cost advantages. Placement is like in embankment dams, thus construction is fast. The typical trapezoidal shape makes possible use of local aggregates and low cement content. Despite the low strength material, these dams can be built on weak foundation, and resist earthquake and overtopping. However, being the material semi-pervious, they require an impervious facing. Until 2014 this was typically made with conventional concrete slabs with waterstops, or grout enriched hardfill. Concrete facings require heavy and costly equipment, long construction time, are expensive, frequently require maintenance.Construction of the facing can have a big impact on the overall construction costs of the dam. Replacing the concrete facing with a geomembrane lining is a cost-effective solution. This paper describes two hardfill dams’ projects with an exposed geomembrane as upstream liner: Filiatrinos (Greece, 2015), 55.6 m high,and Ambarau(Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2017), 19.30 m high.
Radin Espandar, Mark Locke and James Faithful
Brown coal ash has the potential to be a hazard to the environment and local communities if its storage is not well managed. The risk of releasing contained ash from an ash tailings dam due to earthquake induced liquefaction is a concern for mining lease holders, mining regulators and the community.Ash tailings dams are typically raised by excavating and compacting reclaimed ash to form new embankments over slurry deposited ash, relying on drying consolidation and minor cementation for stability. Understanding the post-earthquake behaviour of the brown coal ash is necessary to assess the overall stability of an ash tailings dam during and after seismic loading events.A particular concern is the seismic motion may break cementation bonds within the ash resulting in a large reduction in shear strength (i.e. sensitive soil behaviour) and potential instability. There is limited information available for black coal ash however, brown coal ash has different properties to black coal ash and no known work has been carried out to date in this area.The dynamic and post-earthquake behaviour, including liquefaction susceptibility, of the brown coal ash was studied, specifically for Hazelwood Ash Pond No. 4 Raise (HAP4A) in Latrobe Valley, Victoria. In this study, different well-known methods for liquefaction susceptibility, including the methods based on the index parameters, the cone penetration test (CPT) and the cyclic triaxial testing, were used and the results were compared.It was found that the impounded brown coal ash is susceptible to liquefaction and /or cyclic softening. Triggering of the liquefaction or softening was assessed based on the results of cyclic triaxial test.In this methodology, the relationship among axial strain(εa), Cyclic Stress Ratio (CSR) and number of uniform cycles (Nequ) was determined based on the triaxial test results. Then, asite-specific CSR was determined using the ground response analysis. The CSR and number of uniform cycles (Nequ) for each ash layer was calculated and added to the εa-CSR-Nequgraph to determine the expected axial strain during an MCE event. It was found that the calculated axial strain for the ash embankment and ash deposits during site specific Maximum Credible Earthquake (MCE) are less than the axial strain of the ash material required for triggering of liquefaction and the brown coal ash in HAP4A does not liquefy and/or soften the material during an MCE event. Also it was found that the insitu tests which break the cementation between particles(such as CPT)does not provide accurate results on triggering or sensitivity.
Steven E Pells, Philip J N Pells
Junction reefs dam was designed in 1895 and constructed by 1897 as a multiple arch brick structure which was the first of its kind in Australia, and one of the earliest in the world. The dam was envisioned to provide mechanical and electrical power for gold mining. This paper provides an historical overview of the unique structure, and reassesses some of its engineering characteristics, such as the stress conditions in its unusual arches and reverse concrete gravity wing walls. The hydrology of the dam is re-assessed from the viewpoint of evaluating its potential as a mini hydro scheme. Commentary is also provided on the performance of its unlined spillway, which has been subject to regular spills for 120 years.