Rock Engineering and Slope Stability

Issue: 
#43
Large Open Pit project supports need for reliable pit slope stability in mine design.
The never-ending quest to go further, faster and higher not only applies to professional sports and space science, but is also a trend reflected in the mining industry. As rich, near-surface mineral deposits are depleted and environmental and social awareness grows, mining operators move to greater depths, pit slopes are...
The geological and geotechnical models are foundations of any mine design. These models could also be the leading sources of technical risks for mining projects. In order to minimise these risks, it is necessary to reduce the uncertainty in understanding the geological context of the deposit. With ever more sophisticated...
Quality data collection assists in calculation of slope stability and the acceptable levels of risk.
The word “risk” is widely used when people perceive a hazardous event, resulting in widely different perceptions of risk. The technical definition of risk as used in geotechnical engineering is: Risk = P(event) x Consequences. Slope design for large open-pit mines presents unique challenges to the engineer that are captured...
3D geotechnics structural modeling of open pit slopes to assess stability
Design of deep open pits in structurally complex, weak deformable rock masses is a challenge. Recently, SRK in conjunction with HTA Consulting, engaged in assessing the slope stability for such a proposed pit. Experience has shown that incorporation of the Geotechnical Blockiness Index (GBI) within the 3D geotechnical domain model...
Estimating rock mass strength (RMS) remains one of the challenges facing rock mechanics practitioners.
Estimating rock mass strength (RMS) remains one of the challenges facing rock mechanics practitioners. The infinite variability of geology, weathering and alteration processes, the influence of mining and the inability to test rock mass strength directly, all pose great challenges to making reliable estimates. The experience of the practitioner, therefore,...
Geotechnical considerations in large-scale itabirite iron ore bodies.
SRK has recently been involved at the feasibility and pre-feasibility level studies on a number of large-scale iron ore projects in west and central Africa and Brazil. Experience across these locations has highlighted a number of similarities that should be considered when generating a geotechnical model in itabirites. In the...
Ground control managment planning prepares for variation in rock to maximize returns of rapid development.
Rapid development techniques maximise activity at the tunnel face and advance completion rates without compromising safety. Good project planning should prepare for both expected ground conditions and unexpected variations in the rock mass to be excavated. This will reduce delays and mitigate the effect of poor ground conditions, which can...
Complex design required at Kumtor project to manage permafrost and glacial conditions.
The Kumtor gold project is located in the mountainous terrain of the Tien Shan Mountains in the Kyrgyz Republic, at an altitude of around 4000m. The mean annual temperature is minus 8°C. Locating and designing an exploration decline to access and explore the mineralised horizon below the operating open pit...
SRK refines structural geological model to identify potential impacts on uranium distribution.
The Shea Creek Project, owned jointly by AREVA Resources Canada Inc. and UEX Corporation, with AREVA acting as project operator, is an advanced uranium project located approximately 700km NNW of Saskatoon and approximately 30km east of the Alberta border, within the western Athabasca Basin of northern Saskatchewan. The property is...
SRK integrates structural geology and geotechnics to ensure successful construction of Los Caracoles hydroelectric dam, Argentina.
The Los Caracoles is a 140m high hydropower water dam, located in San Juan Province, Argentina, in an arid region of high seismic activity. The spillway system consists of two large parallel tunnels while the gateway structure is formed by two twin boxes, each 30m high, excavated in the upstream...
SRK uses Sirovision photogrammetric technology to measure pit slopes without exposure to rock fall risk.
For pit slope design, geotechnical data is typically collected by mapping the benches to supplement data collected from boreholes. Where an open pit has been in operation for some years, bench faces are often difficult to access and, increasingly, access is being restricted to reduce the risk of exposure to...
Applying ground blockiness index to Damang mine, Ghana, allowed SRK to complete risk assessment of slope failure.
Risk management and risk assessment are important processes, and should be applied to both the development of mining studies and the implementation of designs. SRK has completed a risk assessment as part of the cutback feasibility study and practical design for the Damang pit in Ghana. For operational risk management,...
The Universal Distinct Element Code (UDEC), developed by the ITASCA Consulting Group, is a “distinctive element program for discontinuum modelling”. UDEC simulates the response of discontinuous media (different rock types) when they are subjected to either static or dynamic loading. Linear or non-linear force-displacement causes movement in both normal and...
Geological modelling with Leapfrog to understand the terrain of Antamina and allow safe, profitable open pit mining.
The Antamina Cu-Zn mine which lies in the high Andes of Peru, 270km north of Lima, is operated by Compañía Minera Antamina S.A., for a consortium of owners including BHP Billiton, Xstrata, Teck Resources, and Mitsubishi Ltd. An expansion of the mine has been recently approved which takes advantage of...
Development of Koidu kimberlite diamond mine as vertical open pit circumvented social impacts of traditional open pit design.
The Koidu Kimberlite Project is situated in the Kono District of Sierra Leone, approximately 330 km east of the capital city, Freetown. The mining lease area is 4km2 and comprises two kimberlite pipes, four dyke zones and a number of blows off the dykes. In 2003, Koidu Holdings established operations...
SRK uses numerical analysis to assess slope stability as Ok Tedi plans expansion from open pit to include underground mining.
A staged numerical analysis program was conducted for the final pit and proposed underground mining excavations at Ok Tedi Mine in Papua, New Guinea. The analyses were conducted to evaluate the performance of the final east and west pit walls, and the stability of the underground mining excavations beneath these...
SRK reduces cost and solves stability problem with a blasting plan rather than more complex pit slope evaluation.
Barton Mines, a garnet mining operation in upstate New York, contracted SRK to conduct a slope stability evaluation of the active Ruby Mountain pit. Three geotechnical coreholes were planned, along with cell mapping of the pit exposures to provide data for the slope stability analyses. During our site investigation, it...
Innovative use of hard rock mining techniques in underground soft rock mines creates economic success.
The economic success of industrial mineral projects,such as potash, often depends on recovering high tonnages at low cost. These deposits are often tabular and, are subjected to the full weight of the overburden, are of relatively low strength, which makes underground high extraction problematic. Most of the tools and techniques...
SRK examines slope stability of Jwaneng open pit diamond mine for expansion.
The Jwaneng Mine is situated in the Republic of Botswana, approximately 160 km west of Gaborone. The open pit has a general NNE-SSW orientation, with waste dumps located to the west and the process plant area to the east. The excavation of the Cut 8 pit will remove part of...
Mine shafts are subject to geotechnical stresses that SRK has solutions for.
The design, development and operation of a shaft system is a critically important element in mining, and needs specialised technical input. Experience has shown that the consequences of damage to shaft systems caused by geotechnical factors are serious and costly. Control of ground conditions is a key factor in the...
SRK performs geotechnical investigation including slope stability for Kwatebala open pit copper mine.
Kwatebala is located 12km west-northwest of Fungurume in the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The topography of the area is characterised by gently rolling hills with pronounced ridges which are frequently associated with copper mineralisation. These ridges have areas of open grassland, known as copper clearances, but...
SRK has developed an audit procedure for Ground Control Management Plans (GCMP) designed for open pit and underground operations. The audit procedure is based on guidelines provided by the Western Australian Department of Minerals and Petroleum (DMP), published in 1997 and 1999, relating to geotechnical considerations for both open pit...
SRK uses LiDAR scanner for remote data collection, improving data quality, maintaining employee safety, and concludes minor changes required to prevent pit slope instability.
Following a multi-bench structural instability along the primary haul road for an operating open-pit copper mine, SRK was tasked with rapidly evaluating geologic structure in the area and subsequently assessing pit slope stability. It was important to determine whether significant pit slope design modifications were necessary for further mining and...
SRK was involved in reviewing the design of a 15m high gabion structure that collapsed. Slide and Phase2 numerical analyses have been used.
Despite the widespread availability of software programs using sophisticated numerical methods, the physical principles of slope engineering should not be forgotten. Simple, well considered engineering judgment based on fundamental principles, which identify all potential mechanisms of failure and account for the stability of each mechanism in the design, are critical...
Characterization of weather rock mass is crucial for geotechnical understanding and slope stability.
SRK’s rock mechanics engineers have recently undertaken open-pit design studies for rock masses hosted within saprolites and highly weathered bedrock. One such example is Oromin Explorations Ltd. Sabodala gold project in Senegal. Since 2006, SRK has designed a series of field programs to satisfy geotechnical, structural and hydrogeological objectives for...
SRK analyzes engineering of open pit copper mine at edge of block caving underground mine subsisdence crater.
The El Teniente mine complex, owned and operated by the National Copper Corporation of Chile (CODELCO), is located about 80 km south of Santiago, Chile in the Andes Mountains, at 2,500 meters above sea level. The complex includes a series of underground operations that use block caving and panel caving...
Understanding structural geology and geotechnics of Venetia Diamond mine to develop potential underground extension.
At the Venetia diamond mine in northern South Africa, owned by De Beers, the country rock structural geology has been under investigation since before the mine was opened in 1994. This includes academic research alliances to better understand the complex structural deformation history of the mine area. These alliances are...
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