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Vo l u m e N o .

2 4 May 2005



Planning of open pit mines

By Oskar Steffen, SRK Consulting, Johannesburg, South Africa
This article addresses the methodology of introducing risk management
into the development of mine plans for open pit mines. It is suggested
that the risk can be adequately defined by the cost of production and the
flexibility incorporated into the mine plan.

Mineral resource estimation

All planning functions commence

Handbook with an appreciation of the mineral

resource estimate. For planning
on Mine Fill purposes, it is assumed that the
Leading fill experts mineral resources have been
have created a unique properly categorised into the three
main classes, namely measured,
and practical source of
indicated, and inferred resources.
information on mine fill
For ease of reference these
practices and technology.
categories are referred to as CAT 1,
…mine fill – an integral CAT 2 and CAT 3 respectively.These
Figure 1. Characterisation of resources/reserves

component of the classifications are in effect statements of is dependant on an understanding of

mining method… confidence or ‘risk’ and need to be clearly geological and geotechnical information and
defined and included in the tonnage the confidence of design is equally based on
Contact the ACG to the degree of certainty which applies to the
grade curve, as shown in Figure 1.
obtain your copy. data available.
An understanding of the grade distribution
and tonnage distribution of the total Maintaining a consistent assessment
resource is fundamental in the first step of of confidence would require that the
composing a proper mine plan. confidence of the slope design should
What’s in this Volume?
match that of the mineral resource
Planning of open pit mines.................1 Slope stability estimation between different categories
The rehabilitation of As in the case of mineral resource
i.e. CAT 1, CAT 2 and CAT 3 respectively.
post-mining landscapes ......................6 estimation, the determination of slope angles
Continued on page 2
First International Seminar
on Mine Closure ...................................8
Australian open pit mining
rattles and hums.................................12
The practice of seismic
management in mines .......................14
Effective paste fill quality control....18
Paste 2006 comes
home to Europe..................................23
ACG event schedule
2005–2006 ............................................24
The views expressed in this newsletter are those of the
authors and may not necessarily reflect those of the
Integration of the three planning levels from life-of-mine, to long-term, to short-term planning, provides a robust
Australian Centre for Geomechanics.
planning procedure. Photo courtesy of SRK Consulting
Continued from page 1




It is therefore proposed that for open pit
designs, the confidence for slope designs
should be categorised using the same RESOURCES RESERVES
fundamental approach as that adopted for
resource/reserve definitions.This can be
illustrated in Figure 2.

Planning processes
Three distinct levels of planning are
recognised in developing the reserves:
• Life-of-mine plan (LOM),
• Long-term planning (LTP), which
follows from the LOM, and
• Short-term planning, (STP) which in TO MOVE BETWEEN RESOURCES AND RESERVES
turn follows from the LTP. Figure 2. Classification of confidence levels
Each of these stages of planning represent
different levels of risk and have different having a production cost greater than the All figures are presented in present-day
objectives. It follows therefore that the cut-off value. The specification of this cut-off value terms and represent the
planning criteria for each planning phase cost is related to an acceptable risk. marketability of the ore reserve on the
should be different. Typical financial criteria that are in world market in competition to other
common use, such as net present value reserves. Figure 3 can therefore be used
Life-of-mine plan (LOM) in the marketing strategy of the mine
(NPV) or internal rate of return (IRR), are
Development of the LOM plan is the first which leads to strategic decision making
insensitive to the boundary limit location.
step in the planning process and has the and provides the communication medium
These criteria are most sensitive to the
following objectives: between marketing, management
price assumed for the product, the
• define the inventory of ore reserve that production schedule for mining, as well as and planners.
is mineable within the assumed the assumed discount rate. Since the In this figure, it is assumed that the cost of
economic parameter, mining schedule, i.e. the order in which production represents the minimum in
• define the production capacity for the the ore and waste blocks are removed, is terms of the present technology for
remaining life of mine, still unknown at this stage, these criteria operations.The function of the mine
• define the infrastructure requirements, cannot be used effectively for this planning department is to constantly
• determine the fixed capital costs, and purpose. When defining the total
• provide information for strategic inventory available for exploitation, it is
decision making. important that every block be afforded
an equal opportunity to contribute to
To achieve these objectives, certain
the profitability.
planning criteria need to be adopted.
Assuming different cut-off costs, the total
Cut-off cost planning criteria inventory available in each incremental
The cut-off cost criteria can be defined cost can be calculated and presented on
as follows: a curve as shown in Figure 3.The average
The LOM pit limits are such that no ore is cost of mining to within this cut-off cost is
mined which will result in the final product represented by the average cost curve.
Figure 3. Reserve marketability

© Copyright 2005. Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG),The University of Western Australia (UWA). All rights reserved. No part of this newsletter may be reproduced,
stored or transmitted in any form without the prior written permission of the Australian Centre for Geomechanics,The University of Western Australia.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general educational and informative purposes only. Except to the extent required by law UWA and the ACG make no
representations or warranties express or implied as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information contained therein.To the extent permitted by law, UWA and
the ACG exclude all liability for loss or damage of any kind at all (including indirect or consequential loss or damage) arising from the information in this newsletter or use of
such information.You acknowledge that the information provided in this newsletter is to assist you with undertaking your own enquiries and analysis and that you should seek
independent professional advice before acting in reliance on the information contained therein.

2 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

review the operational methods adopted corporate philosophy on investment business decisions which are time related
and to implement those methods and risk as well as market image. from those risks which are related to
technology which will see a further • Thirdly, the cut-off cost could be nature, such as geology, ore reserves, slope
reduction in the cost of production. based on the break-even equivalent angles, weather etc.The business risk
underground operating cost.These period is one of the most fundamental
Defining an acceptable cut-off cost
cost comparisons are made on an parameters that needs to be defined for
Deciding on an acceptable cut-off is a
operating cost basis only, ignoring any business, and relates to the length of
business decision. It reflects the optimism
capital. Clearly, the capital cost for time that is anticipated the business would
and the risk that the company is prepared
underground development and remain sound. For mines, the business
to accept in investing in the particular ore
establishment needs to be included risk period is a function of the following
reserve. Some guidelines and principles
in the total evaluation exercise. parameters:
underlying such a decision can be
Long-term planning principles • new discoveries that create competitive
postulated as follows:
Having defined the inventory and spatial changes in the market,
• The tonnage versus cost relationship
location of reserves and dumps from the • the time taken for new mines to be
(see Figure 3) for the ore reserve can
life-of-mine plan, the long-term plan must brought into production,
be a first indicator. Should the
now devise an operating and mining • changes in technology of geological,
relationship indicate an inflection point
strategy to achieve the following objectives: metallurgical and mining applications,
then this could be taken as a decision
on cost limit since the risk of increased • maximise value for investors, • the position on the world producer
cost is not matched with a • minimise risk to investors, and cost curve of the operation, and
corresponding increase in product. • maximise life-of-mine. • pay-back requirements on investments,
Since the risk level is largely determined which would include a political risk.
These objectives are to some extent
by the ore reserve reliability, this point contradictory and a maximum NPV Pushback expansions
indicates a natural cut-off point. cannot correspond to a minimum risk or Normal practice is to change the slope
• Where the inflection point is absent, a maximum life and therefore a suitable angle as experience is gained with mining.
the next option is to consider the cost compromise must be developed in the The flexibility to change is an important
in relation to other world producers. long-term plan. mining strategy.
Reference to a world producer cost
Provided that pushbacks fall within the
curve is therefore necessary as shown Business risk period (BRP)
business limit boundary as defined
in Figure 4.The relative position of the In developing the concept of a business
previously, the pushback width should not
planned operation on the world risk period, it is necessary to distinguish
have any cost implications to the overall
producer cost curve is a function of clearly between the risks associated with
plan except by reducing unit operating
costs due to increased efficiencies.
The business period limits, therefore,
provide useful criteria for pushback design.

Accepting that the mining will proceed
along a basis of a defined cost of
production in terms of final product, many
potential scheduling options exist.
A series of sequential pushbacks can now
be planned and ranked in increasing order
of cost of production. Inventory that has
been defined for each of the pushbacks
can be scheduled in terms of production
cost.The only variables that can be
managed are the head grade and the
stripping ratio, which ultimately determine
the operating costs. Scheduling the
Continued on page 4
Figure 4.World producer cost curve

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 3

Continued from page 3

inventory and the logistics of the design

pushbacks can now be undertaken, based
on set criteria, e.g. maximum NPV,
minimum cost, specified costs etc. (for
different combinations of head grade and
stripping ratios over the long-term).
Comparative schedules can be produced
and an optimum selected.This optimum
should be defined in terms of the criteria
specified earlier.
Figure 5. Ore reserve reliability by category
Cost modelling
for equipment replacement, repurchase The rationale behind the concept being
Accurate cost modelling forms an
and manning schedules for determining that the exploration program for mineral
essential part of this particular process.
labour productivities. Short-term planning resource definition should be closely tied
Different cost models apply to the
must ensure that the long-term planning with the planning process to achieve
different planning phases. Cost
goals are achieved on a daily, weekly and maximum benefit for the exploration
components can be isolated in the
monthly basis. dollars. In this context, the exploration
following manner:
includes orebody definition drilling and
• fixed costs: non-discretionary/ Planning risks geotechnical information gathering, but
discretionary, and Risks associated with planning are related excludes any greenfields exploration for
• variable costs: non-discretionary/ to the confidence that applies to the new resources.
discretionary. mineral resource (geology and grade
distribution), the mining plan (geotechnical) Conclusions
In the case of the LOM plan, the cost
and the business assumptions (price Integration of the three planning levels
model should include total mining costs,
fluctuations).These risks can be addressed from life-of-mine, to long-term, to short-
i.e. fixed costs, variable costs and all mining
by upgrading information in the case of the term planning, provides a robust planning
equipment capital costs discounted into
first two, and by providing flexibility within procedure which allows for good
the unit mining operating cost. In the case
the plan in the case of the latter. In all communication between all levels of
of the LTP, only variable unit costs are
concerned personnel.The cut-off cost
included as all capital items can be these cases risks can be reduced by
criteria for planning is a practical and a
accommodated into the cash flow analysis. incurring more expenditure but can never
more useful means than the normal price
At actual pit closure, ultimate costs will be eliminated. Accepted risk levels will
estimate or cut-off grade approach.
comprise only variable costs with fixed vary from company to company.
The application of the cost-based long-
and discretionary costs minimised. Fault/event tree analyses provide a
term planning scheduling means that risks
formalised way of adjudicating the value
Short-term planning can be properly assessed in terms of a
added by additional information.
business risk period and the best solution
From a defined long-term plan, short-term
Ultimately, the technical planning risks obtained between return on investment
planning now applies to a one-year period
can be presented as shown in Figure 5. and risk of operation.The end result of the
within a single business cycle. Short-term
Categories 1,2 and 3 reserves represent planning process is a maximum exposed
planning has as its major objectives:
the different confidences of mineable ore reserve for a given cost of production.
• grade control, reserves, i.e. after the application of ore
Please contact Dr Oskar Steffen for
• cost control, reserve and geotechnical confidences to
further information via
• equipment utilisation, the mine plans. It should be noted that
• capital productivity, and “reserve” in this context is not only the
• labour productivity. primary grade data but all the information
that may impact on the marketability of
The short-term planning process is
the product, e.g. contaminants,
therefore concerned primarily with the
particle size etc.
day-to-day scheduling of feed grade to
the mill and stripping requirements for Figure 5 suggests that a decreasing
Dr Oskar Steffen,
the first 12 to 18 months of the LTP. confidence should be incorporated with corporate consultant,
Equipment utilisation includes the planning the increase in the planning time scale. SRK Consulting

4 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

2nd International Seminar on Strategic
versus Tactical Approaches in Mining
8–10 March 2006, Novotel Langley Perth, Western Australia

Strategic Mining focus to achieve long- During this seminar, tactical and
term goals by proactively strategic approaches to mining
addressing potential industry will be explored through
risks, gaps and uncertainties comprehensive case studies.
Tactical Mining focus to achieve short- The seminar will provide a forum
term goals. The uncertain nature for industry to share their
and inherent risks in mining experiences, their successes and
tend to generate a reactive also some of the opportunities
approach that may have been missed due to
a lack of a long-term focus. Best
SEMINAR OBJECTIVE – to practices and long-term planning
promote best practices in processes will be comprehensively
strategic planning activities in discussed. This unique seminar will promote best practices in strategic planning
Australian mines.
Mining is a long-term business that SEMINAR THEMES
requires extremely high levels of Management of financial risks and • mine site facilities
investment. It also presents significant risks mining project uncertainties • shaft versus decline
related to uncertainties, but potentially • geotechnical and ore reserves/ • equipment
extraordinary financial rewards for resources risks Production strategies and mining
shareholders, industry stakeholders and • geotechnical risks (slope stability, considerations
society.To maximise these rewards over rockbursts, caving and non-caving, • mining methods (low cost versus
the lifetime of our precious (but limited) tailings storage facility, etc.) risks; block caving in hard rock)
minerals assets, long-term planning • metallurgical (ore recovery) • use of mine fill
processes must be implemented.The • natural disasters • stope extraction strategies
temptation to access short-term gains at • political environment • open pit pushbacks
the expense of longer term benefits must Human resources and • deep pit versus underground
be minimised. infrastructure Enabling technologies and R&D
When the minerals sector is at the • skills shortage and retention of • mine automation
bottom of the “boom cycle”, companies personnel • in-cycle shotcrete
may address the economic challenge by • professional development and • thin spray-on liners
implementing common, short-term training • rapid development mining
measures such as cost-cutting. When times • contract versus owner operators • seismic risk management
are buoyant, the pressure is on to take full • consultants and corporate memory
advantage of the high mineral values,
foregoing the benefits of adequate human
resources or an established infrastructure.
Call for Papers
Some mining corporations actively
Submit your abstract by 3 October 2005
counteract short-term drivers by having
the resources and processes in place to
provide effective and measurable strategic A series of three international seminars on Strategic versus Tactical Approaches in Mining
planning. The benefits of such an approach are planned for 2005–2007.The first seminar will be held in South Africa in September
can easily be measured in billions of dollars 2005. Following the 2007 seminar, to be held in Canada, the ACG will produce a hard
for global mining companies. bound publication featuring the best papers from the 2005–2007 seminars.
Please email Josephine for more information,

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 5

The rehabilitation of post-mining landscapes
By Mark Tibbett, Centre for Land Rehabilitation,The University of Western Australia
Ecosystem function
Sustainable ecosystem reconstruction
demands the initiation of suitable below-
ground and above-ground processes that
Mining activities offer several challenges to require careful manipulation of biotic and
environmental scientists and geotechnical abiotic components.Thoughtful
engineers in order to achieve a safe, management of early soil and early
secure and sustainable landscape, once ecosystem development underpin the A well-planned and resourced rehabilitation is more
likely to be successful
the blasting and digging have stopped. long-term success of any revegetation
Most rehabilitation projects have specific programme. Past experiences have shown It requires skilled workers to accurately
land uses planned as outcomes for the that the naïve planting of seedlings without measure and interpret these parameters,
renewed landscapes after mine closure. supporting ecosystem function will have especially in an integrated fashion.
The options open to a given mine site little chance of long-term success, even These issues can become still more
depend on a range of diverse but when initial results are promising. complex when dealing with partial failures
interacting factors such as the nature of Ecosystem function in a terrestrial context in rehabilitation or specific issues such as
the overburden and waste materials, includes an eclectic range of measurable environmental toxins. As a result, the
climatic conditions, site hydrology, parameters such as: establishment of ecosystem function may
resource availability, the governing legal • soils with sufficient water holding itself have to be partly experimental on a
framework, and the needs and perception capacity and drainage, site-by-site basis.This is because certain
of the local community. components may be more sensitive than
• the recycling of litter and release of
The success of rehabilitation is others. For example, a site where some
conventionally determined by the quality metal pollution still exists may require the
• balanced microbial communities to
of the reconstructed soil and its use of tolerant Acacia species as nurse
keep pathogens in check,
vegetation cover. This requires the plants for mycorrhizal fungi to develop
• a supply of suitable plant pollinators,
interactions of geotechnical engineers, soil networks before more sensitive target
scientists, hydrologists, botanists and local species such as Eucalypts can be
• mycorrhizal networks to support newly successfully grown in the developing soils.
stakeholders to determine the
emerging seedlings and encourage
appropriate types of land use and plant
ecological succession. Ecological succession
species to be seeded.
The development of ecosystem function
on mine sites is an example of de novo
ecosystem evolution.This is similar to that
which occurs on new landscapes after
volcanic eruptions or the retreat of
glaciers.The major differences on mine
sites occur due to extreme substrate
conditions.These are often associated
with waste rock or tailings that might be
highly acidic or caustic and require
containment and isolation or (preferably)
remediation, prior to attempting the
establishment of a viable ecosystem.
The development of a de novo ecosystem
progresses through a series of stages as it
matures.This is known as an ecological
succession and can be defined as a
sequence of ecological changes in an area
whereby one group of plant or animal
Thoughtful management of early soil development underpins the long-term success of any revegetation
programme. For example, soil factors that affect seedling establishment may be of critical importance

6 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

species successively gives way to another. and final land use is different, this requires of public relations, return of bonds
This culminates in what is known as a several years of research and monitoring secured by regulators, and the prospects
“climax community”, the stable end-point of early rehabilitation efforts. Without a for permission to mine new leases. It can
of ecological succession.This applies as sound scientific basis, success criteria are also be a positive outcome for the local
much below-ground as above-ground no more than educated guesswork and community, the regulators and the
communities, a fact too often forgotten can miss the keystone indicators of environment. Needless to say, an
by restoration ecologists. ecosystem function. unsuccessful rehabilitation can have the
Environmental management systems opposite outcome.
Monitoring & environmental
provide a continual cycle of planning, For more information, please
management systems
implementing, reviewing and improving contact Dr Mark Tibbett via
There is also a need for careful
the actions that the mining company takes
monitoring during early ecosystem and
to meet its environmental obligations. An
soil development as a complex, and
environmental policy, which states that the
potentially chaotic, system stabilises after
company will implement the prevention
the rehabilitation process. Monitoring is
of pollution, and strive to improve its
essential for two reasons; (i) to check for
environmental compliance, will be
any reversal of site remediation, and (ii)
developed with the regulators responsible
to assess the sustainability of ecosystem
for the mine.The company should identify
function.This is best built into a
environmental aspects of its operations Dr Mark Tibbett,
comprehensive environmental director, Centre for
and determine the impact they have on
management system and will require Land Rehabilitation
the environment.
monitoring of site stability, chemistry,
hydrology and the fate of indicator Planning for success
species. In partnership with regulators, this A well-planned and resourced
can include rehabilitation success criteria. rehabilitation programme is more likely to
Success criteria must be established from be successful.This can be a very positive
a credible scientific basis. As each minesite outcome for a mining company in terms

Reading the Ground – an essential training

tool for underground mine operators
Following on from the For many mining companies, ACG training
successful ACG products have become an integral and A training tool designed to assist
Securing the Ground – essential component of their training
new and inexperienced mine
A training video for programs. Contact the ACG via
underground mine workers, the ACG has for more information. operators to identify, understand
developed a prequel video/DVD entitled, and react to potential
Reading the Ground – A geotechnical underground rock related hazards
hazards awareness training video for The ACG is grateful for the industry
underground metalliferous mine workers. support of the Reading the Ground • What to look for – identifying
Sponsors, namely: geotechnical conditions
While the Securing the Ground video
provided clear instructions on how to • AngloGold Ashanti Australia Ltd • Stress and its effects on ground
minimise the risks of rockfalls using • Newmont Australia conditions in excavations
techniques such as barring down and • Placer Dome Asia Pacific • On-the-job risk assessment methods,
ground support, Reading the Ground • WMC Resources Ltd applications and safer work
provides workers with an overview of • Xstrata Mount Isa Mines procedures
basic geomechanics principles – what to
look out for and how to react.

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 7

demonstrates it is able to close existing
sites in a responsible and environmentally
and socially acceptable manner.
The organisers are delighted that the
world-first seminar will be held in
Australia. It is hoped that the event will
initiate an annual vehicle for legislators,
mine owners and operators, consultants,
service providers and researchers from
Global mine closure strategies throughout the world to exchange views

– what constitutes success? on how best to ensure that future closure

of mine sites is achieved at minimum cost,
The widespread challenges of closing mines in an environmentally and whilst ensuring that future environmental
socially acceptable way will be addressed by the international mining and social impacts are minimised. By using
opportunities such as this for setting the
community at the First International Seminar on Mine Closure
agenda for future research and
planned for Perth in September 2006.
operational directions, the viability of
mining operations can be ensured.
Hosted by the Australian Centre for be met to avoid financial penalties.
Geomechanics, in collaboration with An example is the environmental The technical program will include
the Centre for Land Rehabilitation, performance bond requirement in comprehensive and highly relevant
The University of Western Australia, this Western Australia, which is imposed to technical papers emphasising innovations
is the first time that a range of targetted ensure that the state is not exposed to and application of state-of-the-art
mine closure issues will be explored in unacceptable costs should mine operators technologies and closure strategies
an international forum. fail to meet the rehabilitation from around the world.

One of the greatest challenges facing the requirements of their lease. For tailings
global mining industry is the issue of storage facilities, for example, the amount
of the bond is AUD$12,000 per hectare. SEMINAR THEMES
economic and socially acceptable closure
• regulatory expectations and
of mine sites.The increasing attention Planning for land rehabilitation and site
legal requirements
being paid by the media to the legacy closure from an early stage of a mining
• financing closure
of abandoned mine sites has focussed operation is an important way of
public interest on mine closure issues. decreasing the cost of the process. • case studies on mines that have
In response, legislators and regulators are already been relinquished
It is also important to have clearly defined,
implementing various financial instruments • rehabilitation and success criteria
unambiguous and appropriate criteria
to provide surety that closure will be for what constitutes acceptable closure. • planning for closure
affordable.These are often underpinned Approval for future mining projects will • managing acid drainage
by various rehabilitation criteria that must more likely be obtained if the industry • addressing community concerns and
social impacts
• landform evolution
• primary successions and ecosystem
• pedogensis on covers and wastes
More than 50 papers from leading
local and international mine closure
practitioners and strategists are
expected to be presented at this
unique, world-first mining event.
For more information, please contact
Josephine Ruddle at the ACG at
The 1st International Seminar on Mine Closure will provide an international forum for an exchange of ideas
on what constitutes acceptable closure

8 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

RaSiM6 unleashes its energy
Perth was shaking and bursting with excitement as more than 500 mining
professionals descended to explore the latest technologies and applications to
access deep mining resources.

The opening keynote address was given

by industry sage, Dave Ortlepp, who
presented a talk entitled, RaSiM Comes of
Age – A Review of the Contribution to the
Understanding and Control on Mine
Rockbursts. This address gave a broad
overview of the progress the RaSiM
Symposia have made to combat the
hazard of mine rockbursts during the
almost one quarter of a century of its
existence.The address aptly set the scene
for the Symposium. RaSiM6 was divided
into the following sessions: high stress
mining, source models and mechanisms,
seismicity in soft rock mines: coal and
Delegates visited trade displays to keep abreast of the latest strategies and technologies to address rockburst
and mine seismicity challenges
potash, seismic hazard and risk, case
studies, laboratory testing and
The Australian Centre for Geomechanics The staging of RaSiM6 was particularly experiments, mine design, rockburst
was pleased to host for the first time in timely for WA, with mine seismicity and damage and support and instrumentation
Australia the very topical and highly rockbursting becoming an increasingly and modelling.
regarded 6th International Symposium on widespread industry problem. Many WA
RaSiM6 joined with AusIMM’s
Rockburst and Seismicity in Mines.The 1st sites operate in a unique, significantly high
Underground Operators’ Conference on
International Symposium on Rockburst horizontal stress field that is responsible
the common day, providing excellent
and Seismicity in Mines was held in for acute stress and rockbursting
networking opportunities for more than
Johannesburg in 1982. Since then, conditions being reported in small mines,
500 delegates.
symposia have been held every four at depths as shallow as 500 metres.
The ACG was able to present this
years: 1998 USA, 1993 Canada, 1997 Whilst leading mining countries such as
Symposium for the first time in Australia
Poland, and 2001 South Africa. South Africa and Canada have been
with the generous support of its
The RaSiM Symposia have long presented aggressively pursuing rockburst and risk
sponsors, namely, WMC Resources Ltd,
an opportunity for researchers and management strategies for a number of
AngloGold Ashanti Australia and Barrick
years, Australia is a relative new-comer to
industry professionals to meet and Gold of Australia.
the arena. Prior to 1994, no Australian
examine the latest technical findings, and
mine had a seismic monitoring system The RaSiM6 Symposium proceedings
share ideas and experiences on one of
installed. Currently, there are more than feature almost 80 papers, many presented
the most complex technical problems
20 seismic monitoring systems installed in at the Symposium.To obtain your copy,
facing mining around the world.
mines throughout Australia.The ACG, well please contact Jill at the ACG.
More than 150 delegates from supported by local industry, is researching
17 countries such as Chile, Germany, and developing new technologies, RaSiM7
South Africa, Russia, Poland, Japan, China, instrumentation and procedures to The 7th International Symposium on
Canada, USA and Finland attended the minimise the risk of rockburst fatalities. Rockburst and Seismicity in Mines
three-day event held in March. Mining This highly regarded event provides will be held in China during 2009.
engineers, seismologists, researchers, industry professionals from throughout For more information, please
scientists and academics explored the the world to exchange the latest contact Professor Tang,
latest advancements in seismic hazard information to minimise the hazards Northeastern University, China via
and risk management, mine design and associated with rockbursts and
rockburst damage and support. mine seismicity.

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 9

Surface Support in Mining
By Kevin Rosengren, Kevin Rosengren & Associates

Surface support in underground mine support held in Perth, Johannesburg and

development has been a live issue in Quebec City in 2001, 2002 and 2003,
Australia in recent years, more particularly respectively. The bulk of these papers
since the publication of the MOSHAB (25) are on TSLs, in four categories,
guidelines in 1999. This book is therefore namely, design, testing, testing for
a welcome addition to the literature on rockburst conditions and field trials and
the subject. It is handsomely produced applications. The remaining papers are
and its three editors,Yves Potvin, Dick related to shotcrete (15 papers), ore pass
Stacey and John Hadjogeorgiou, have lining (3 papers) and mesh (5 papers).
international eminence, appropriately in TSLs are 3–4 mm thick coatings, sprayed
the three countries which have been at on to exposed rock surfaces to seal the
the forefront of developments, namely surfaces and to provide some degree of
Australia, South Africa and Canada. structural support. TSL technology subject to date. Hopefully, this is a
The book has two distinct parts: originated in Canada some 15 years ago portent for future developments.
Part 1 – Thin Spray-on Liners (TSLs) – and has since progressed in Canada,
Mesh has been the mainstay of surface
A Quick Reference Guide South Africa and Australia; in that order.
support in Australian mining for many
To date, it has achieved only limited
Part 2 – International Seminars on years and, no doubt, will continue to be
success in its original objective of
Surface Support – Proceedings used extensively in the future. Its main
replacing mesh for general surface
Part 1 lives up to its title and, in 40 pages, advantage is that no additional or
support in underground developments
summarises current knowledge on TSLs, specialised equipment is required for its
(Chapters 21, 22 and 25 of the book). application. However, in the past decade,
including a brief history, the types of
However, it has proved effective in certain shotcrete has been used to an increasing
products available, occupational health and
specialised applications. degree, fuelled by developments in fibre
safety, testing methods and field trials and
As noted in the book, Australia’s reinforcement and cement additives.
applications. This is a concise state-of-the-
contribution has been relatively modest Trials of boltless shotcrete have been
art reference book that summarises a
to date, although trials have been carried carried out in Canada (Chapter 34) but it
great deal of information which, until now,
out in several mines. However, Australia remains to be seen whether this will ever
has been available in a variety of technical
(read ACG) has taken the initiative in be a practical reality.
papers in diverse locations.
organising the first surface support This book will occupy a prominent
Part 2 is a selection of technical papers seminar and publishing this book which is place on my bookshelf and is highly
from three previous seminars on surface the most significant publication on the recommended for any engineer
or geologist with an interest in
ground support.
To obtain your copy of the Surface
Support in Mining reference manual please
contact Jill at the Australian Centre for

Dr Kevin Rosengren,
principal, Kevin
Rosengren &
Surface Support in Mining editors: John Hadjigeorgiou,Yves Potvin and Dick Stacey

10 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

Handbook on Mine Fill – advancing the safe,
efficient and economic placement of fill
After more than two years in the making, the ACG was delighted to launch the
Handbook on Mine Fill at the AusIMM’s 9th Underground Operators’ Conference
dinner held in Perth in March 2005.

In 2003, a group of professionals lead by Kugan Kuganathan and Adrian Lang have
Adrian Lang recognised the lack of seen the editors (Yves Potvin, Ed Thomas, Handbook on
readily accessible information of this and Andy Fourie) create a unique and Mine Fill content
very complex and multifaceted mining practical tool for engineers. • Introduction
discipline. While there was a plethora of • Basic fill materials
To obtain your copy, please contact the
mine fill information dispersed through • Geomechanics of mine fill
ACG via
conference proceedings, journal articles • Fluid mechanics
and industry reports, there was no • Hydraulic fill
Industry Sponsors • Rock fill
current one-stop reference source.
The ACG gratefully acknowledges the • Paste fill
The ACG set about to develop a
support of the Handbook on Mine Fill • Other fill types and practices
practical, invaluable tool for all mining
Sponsors. • Hazards, risks and environment
professionals to utilise when addressing
• Emerging technologies and
mine fill considerations. current research
Contributions from leading authorities • Glossary
such as Tony Grice, Angus Henderson, • Extensive reference list

ACG Update
International events, publications launched, new research projects commenced … the ACG team have been
kept busy developing tools and knowledge to aid industry to improve mine safety.

The last six months have been particularly university background, Jill is a great asset to
challenging with our small crew presenting the ACG.
Ground Support 2004 and RaSiM6, and 2005 has already proven to an exciting
producing a number of publications, year for the ACG/UWA PhD candidates.
research deliverables and training videos. John Albrecht submitted his thesis entitled
It has been well worth it! Response and Delineating Rockburst Damage to
feedback from mining professionals Underground Development Subjected to
throughout the world clearly indicate that Seismic Loading in February. Supervised by
Congratulations Dr Michelle Owen!
our activities have had a positive impact Yves Potvin, John’s thesis originated from
on industry.
the ACG’s Mine Seismicity and Rockburst
Early this year Melissa McFetridge, our
Risk Management research project.
Administrative Assistant, decided a change
of pace was needed and that it was The ACG was thrilled to see former
time to fly the coop to embark on a ACGer Michelle Owen on her whirlwind
nursing degree. trip to Australia in March. Based in
Washington, USA, Michelle is a senior civil
The ACG is delighted to welcome
engineer with Bechtel. Michelle returned
onboard Jill Hollinshead. Jill joined the
home to present a paper at the RaSiM6
Centre as the new Administrative Assistant
Symposium and to graduate with
in January. With her enthusiasm, excellent
a doctorate from The University of
communication skills, event management
Jill Hollinshead has joined the ACG team as the Western Australia.
and public relations experience, and strong Administrative Assistant

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 11

Australian open pit mining rattles and hums
By Gordon Sweby, Australian Centre for Geomechanics

The ACG’s research project “High

Resolution Seismic Monitoring in Open
Pit Mines” is well underway.The research
undertaken in this project aims to
demystify the intricate processes of slope
failure in active Australian open pit mines.
With industry support, namely from
WMC Resources Ltd, Xstrata Zinc and
Minerals and Energy Research Institute of
W.A. (MERIWA), the project seeks to
minimise the financial and safety risks
associated with potentially catastrophic
slope failures by detecting and analysing
the early microseismic warning emitted by
the failing rock.
Already microseismic monitoring systems
have been installed to establish the
potential, as well as the operating Figure 1. Position of trial monitoring sites at Mt Keith
constraints of seismic monitoring. An
Engineering Seismology Group Canada identify the most active of the three (Figure 2). After three weeks of
Inc. (ESG) system is currently recording chosen sites and expand the array to a monitoring the system is performing
data at WMC’s Mt Keith Nickel 24-channel network, consisting of four reliably and approximately 40 events have
Operation. Planning for an ISS system to triaxial and 12 uniaxial sensors. The three already been located in the Site C study
be installed at Xstrata Zinc’s Black Star trial sites are located at strategic positions area (see Figure 3).
Open Pit (Mt Isa) is in the advanced around the southern half of the current A Siro3D mapping exercise has been
stages. pit (see Figure 1). carried out at each of the three trial sites
At Mt Keith, a staged approach has been Site C was selected as the first trial site to capture 3D spatial information for the
adopted, with three 6-uniaxial mini- and an ESG Paladin system was installed geotechnically significant structures that
networks scheduled. The plan is to and commissioned during March 2005 occur at each site. This information will
be used, in conjunction with manually
mapped and core logged data, to
understand the mechanisms behind the
recorded seismic activity. The Siro3D
surface topography of trial site C, with
some of the identified major structures, is
shown in Figure 4.
Mt Keith will make use of an extensive
automated prism monitoring network,
which will provide the correlation link
between recorded seismicity and physical
Planning for the installation of a 24-
channel ISS system at the Black Star
Open Cut at Mt Isa is at an advanced
stage, with the system design and
specification nearing completion.
Figure 2. Installation of wireless networked ESG Paladin system at Mt Keith

12 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

Figure 3. Seismic events from initial three weeks of monitoring Figure 4. Siro3D surface topography of Site C, showing interpreted major geological
structures. The uniaxial sensor holes and positions are also shown

The Black Star Open Cut commenced extensometers, which will provide the Acknowledgment
operations towards the end of 2004 and necessary correlation data for linking The significant contributions made by the
thus is in the early stages of development. seismic activity with physical deformation. sponsors (MERIWA, WMC and Xstrata
The chosen monitoring site is on the east This unique ACG research project aims Zinc), both in the project justification and
wall at the final pitwall position, which to develop innovative solutions that could funding, and the efforts of the site
Xstrata have deemed critical from an become critical to the success of future personnel, are gratefully acknowledged.
infrastructure perspective (see Figure 5). deep open pit operations within Australia For more information about High
The Black Star site offers a unique and overseas.The direct benefits of Resolution Seismic Monitoring in Open
opportunity to monitor, from a enhanced slope monitoring capabilities Pit Mines, please contact Gordon Sweby
stress/deformation perspective, the will be more aggressive slope design and via
progression of the pit floor with depth, a diminished risk of failure.The early
and the interaction with underground detection of slope failure will also
voids (Figure 5). The pitwall is extensively allow for tactical response to avoid the
monitored with movement detection loss of slopes.

Gordon Sweby,
project leader,
Australian Centre for

Do we have your
correct address?
For free copies of the ACG
newsletter and updates on
Centre activities and initiatives,
please notify the ACG of any
corrections to your contact
details, including email address.
Tel + 61 8 6488 3300
Fax + 61 8 6488 1130
Figure 5. Black Star Open Cut (Stage 2 pit design) as viewed from the SE. The planned sensor holes and
triaxial (blue) and uniaxial (purple) positions are as shown relative to known underground voids

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 13

The practice of seismic management in mines: how
to love your seismic monitoring system
By Peter A. Mikula, Mikula Geotechnics Pty Ltd
My experience at Mt Charlotte Mine may be aptly summarised thus:
“When I joined the mine in 1993 I was learning about seismicity. After three years I thought I knew everything. After five
years I realised I knew nothing. Now I think I know something.”

Mining induced seismicity and associated While attractive for different reasons, larger insight into future events in that cluster.
ground control problems have a long stopes and larger windows both generate Seismicity often (not always) reveals its
history in Kalgoorlie’s Golden Mile. a concentration of energy and may suffer character early, in smaller events and
Documented seismicity at Mt Charlotte catastrophically in case of unanticipated lesser damage, giving time to study why it
mine goes back to March 1965, only three circumstances. As engineers, we generally is happening, and how to respond. Quite
years after bulk mining methods were anticipate stability using calculation and simply, if seismicity is monitored and
introduced to the mine. About 80 events computer simulation. The paradox is that analysed, seismic hazard can begin to be
of Richter magnitude 2 or greater have the better the calculations or computer understood. By contrast, no monitoring
been recorded there since bulk mining simulations, and therefore the more trim system means no history and no learning.
started. Understandably, large events make and perfect the constructions, the less they
Seismicity also shows elements of chaotic
managers, planners and engineers nervous, can survive the unpredictable.
behaviour. Chaos theory deals with the
sometimes to the point of closing mines Thinking about and doing the computations
behaviour of certain nonlinear dynamic
down.They rightly ask “why, and if so how, is just the middle step. The lesson for those
systems that are sensitive to initial
could mining still be done safely and involved in seismic issues in mines is to also
conditions. For example, cyclones are
profitably in this mine?” But knowledge think carefully about the first step
sensitive to small changes in air
gained by linking seismic monitoring to (documenting the data) and the third
temperatures. As excellently described by
seismic management has allowed the mine (practical seismic management allowing for
to survive. variations, errors and unknowns). Lee et al (1989) for the Mt Charlotte
environment, “Stopes, Stresses, and
Gothic cathedrals and gold mines Fortunately for miners, rock surrounding
Structures” make up the initial conditions
Time spent learning from history is never the excavations has bulk, which by design
influencing a seismic event:
or accident can permit stable equilibrium.
wasted. An inspiring essay by Vaudeville
The ancient stonemasons also tried to • the pre-existing rockmass constitutive
(1999) travelled back 700 years to the
avoid instability by adding bulk to their properties, namely the pre-mining
Gothic Cathedral constructions of the
designs. Each arch or column was figured stress regime, the rock properties, and
13th and 14th centuries. Stability of those
with ten times the calculated minimum the geological faults and structures, and
edifices depended on the constituent
necessary cross-sectional area, so that a • the imposed excavations – geometry,
parts forming a system, all parts being
ten times stress concentration due to position, mining sequence, and blasting
necessary, and some being proactive
design or construction irregularities or procedure.
(flying buttresses and arches), and all
other circumstances could be met This suggests that analysis of the above
obeying the laws of mechanics.
without exceeding the perceived strength
Yet some constructions have collapsed, initial conditions and the resulting
of the stone.
while others still stand, showing that seismicity can be expected to improve
unexpected catastrophic instability was a Documenting the data the ways of effectively managing mine
real issue. Interestingly, we can recognise Seismic events may appear random, but seismicity.The initial conditions are not
mine seismicity also as catastrophic occur in clusters that show some fractal known to the required resolution to be
instability. What does this parallel teach? characteristics, i.e. clusters are self-similar able to predict individual chaotic
Further, we note that Gothic Cathedral (subsets in time or space look like the rockbursts. However, the gross boundaries
windows over the years became larger, whole) and are independent of scale of the initial conditions can be identified
reducing massive stone walls to fragile (they look similar when zoomed in). and studied to examine how they affect
interstitial pillars. The mining parallel of Fractal character over time means that seismicity on a global, as opposed to
chasing percentage extraction is clear. analysis of cluster subsets gives valuable individual basis.

14 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

Figure 3. B-Value history path chart, for four
clusters, over 6-monthly periods as indicated.
The MOB4 stope cluster stabilised.The CS3
and CDOB I2 clusters changed character when
production mining approached. The CDOB backs
cluster showed a one-year back-pedal during a lull
in production

Figure 1. Unclustered events – shown by magnitude Figure 2. Clustered events – represent 65% of the since 1995 have returned intriguing but
total number of events but 96% of the seismic
energy recorded
low resolution data hinting at multiple
stress changes of up to 1 MPa over
Collecting seismic event data is a joint I had a natural advantage at Mt Charlotte time, changes apparently unrelated
effort between computers and engineers. – a good study mine, with essentially only to mining.
Using the fractal character of seismicity one rock type and two dominant fault • Electromagnetic emissions (EME)
to advantage, some form of clustering and structure orientations.This simplicity experiment – during a mass blast, an
of events is essential. Clustering can cut allows better perception of the attempt was made to relate seismic
thousands of events to only dozens of importance of other parameters. events to EME associated with
clusters (see Figures 1 & 2). The continuity of over 12 years at the fracturing of rock.
A work schedule to ensure clustering mine was long enough to see several • B-Value History Path Chart – clustered
is done and a good system for the complete stoping cycles, and to see the seismicity data is processed to generate
collection of underground observation results of designs and plans made some a cluster history path.This uses the
and stope history data is paramount. years previously. Nearly 11 years of this familiar “b-value” gradient and the
A monthly reconciliation of workplace time was with the invaluable support of “Mmax” magnitude intercept to
visits is wise, to compare design a seismic monitoring system. characterise a cluster over successive
expectations with actual performance, Beware optimism. Engage the services time intervals (see Figure 3). Trends
and generate feedback. As the months of a good but pessimistic consultant and can be clearly seen and linked to
pass, a history of stope performance is ensure regular reviews of work. stoping milestones. Large changes in
built up – exactly what is needed for Have many visitors and listen to them. b-value and Mmax occur over time
later analysis of seismic response. It is not a case of “I’ve heard it all as seismic domains are crossed. It is
before” which really means “I am not necessary to define seismic domains
Formulating design principles
interested in changing, so why bother?” (just like geotechnical domains) for
Turning the collected data into design
Rather it is “How can I take another step different temporal sources, as well as
principles or rules for a mine is quite
forward?” No-one has time to make all spatial sources. (Note – Mmax is just
the mistakes themselves. the x-axis intercept, not necessarily the
• attempt to construct graphs, charts largest event that can occur!)
and maps based on the data – this Keep very good stope record systems
to manage the problem of changing • Objective measures of excavation initial
crystallises the thinking process,
personnel and loss of historical conditions. Psychological studies have
• run experiments to follow up on ideas found that individuals tend to make
mining knowledge.
or trends. Trials, tests, research and irrational decisions, based on many
changes are normal, and Examples of research undertaken at
factors which need not include all or
• investigate mistakes to be sure of Mt Charlotte include:
only the relevant information. People
their causes. • Stress change monitoring experiment – have a tendency to subjectively
HI cells at the base of Cassidy shaft
Continued on page 16

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 15

Continued from page 15 It may be that during mining, increased
seismicity appears inevitable. If so, there
emphasise recent experience or
successes at the expense of prior are three management options available.
history, as seen for example in runs on These are to attempt to have the
the stock market. The Mt Charlotte seismicity occur as follows:
“14-Rules” – the mine’s original seismic • at a chosen time, i.e. during blasting.
risk reduction checklist – were revised This is easier to achieve for stress
to objectively relate initial conditions to fracturing than for fault-slip events.
cluster character. The rules were • at a chosen place, which is much harder
expanded, and now form the “21-Rules
to achieve.
seismic hazard management checklist.”
• at a chosen magnitude, done by
The outcome of the study is a chart Figure 5. CSOM analysis of Mt Charlotte 21-Rules
data, illustrating the similarity of the component inputs controlling fault-slip area, or modifying
trending the initial condition score
rock stiffness by preconditioning,
versus Mmax (see Figure 4).
Seismic management during the destressing, or tight slot blasting
• CSOM (CSIRO Self Organising Maps) excavation design phase starts with the (Mikula et al, 2005).
Analysis.This is a data mining tool estimate of the hazard. If large seismic
developed by the CSIRO. events (exceeding a nominated tolerable Weather forecasters and
A preliminary trial assessed the magnitude, with margin for unknowns) seismicity
suitability of the 21-Rules database are forecast, intervention is required: I found at Mt Charlotte that it is difficult to
for CSOM analysis. Figure 5 shows the forecast the larger seismic events. Weather
• Change elements of design and/or
resulting component similarity plot, and
sequence as practicable to deal with forecasters have the same problem.
on this display the 21-Rules parameters
the identified contributing factors. In climates where rainy days are few and
are positioned according to their
For example, if a pillar containing a fault far between, forecasting rainy days has a
correlation with each other and their
cannot be avoided, change mining plans large error rate.This has partial similarity to
impact on the overall analysis.
to ensure that the fault in the pillar is the forecast of the largest seismic events,
Practical seismic management not clamped.The intent is to remove which are also few and far between.
Rock is not like steel and concrete. or hinder the mechanism of the
Suppose a climate generates a known
Rock has extra complexity and variability largest events.
pattern of five rainy days and 360 sunny
which even if globally estimated is locally • Use numerical modelling appropriately
days per year. Also, suppose forecasters
unknown.The nature of rock invites to support proposed designs or to
select the correct weather for the day on
special study, knowledge, and methods. quantify the differences between
80% of days.Thus of 360 sunny days,
Successful designs must allow for competing designs.
288 are forecast to be sunny, and 72 rainy.
variability of rock, errors and unknown • Define ground support, re-entry
So a rainy day forecast is wrong on
factors, so the geotechnical engineer has a windows, personnel access controls,
and any other stoping constraints, 72 days and correct on four days per year,
critical role in hazard management.
The seismic hazard management plan is with appropriate standard operating which is about a 95% failure rate.
a statement of the action plans used to procedures. It is far easier to forecast the yearly
manage seismic hazard, and is part of the • Repeat the assessment process for average climate than the specific storm.
mine’s ground control management plan. any subsequent changes made to the So it is with seismicity forecasting –
initial design to suit the mine’s changing practitioners should be cautious when
requirements. arriving at their assessments. Forecasting
During stoping, seismic management typical cluster behaviour is easier than
requires tracking events, clusters, and forecasting a specific large event.
cluster character, to define seismic hazard.
If seismic hazard increases, respond Seismic monitoring benefits
by assessing options with management Two benefits of having a seismic
and engineers, particularly if intervention monitoring system in a mine are usually
becomes necessary.The situation is similar given: reduced seismically related
to open pit slope monitoring – if cracking production delays (more assured
Figure 4. Relationship between cluster Mmax (from is detected, the response plan is activated.
the b-value charts) and the 21-Rules parameter score production), and improved mine safety.

16 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

But there’s much more: • there is confidence to go against usual installed so long ago now at Mt Charlotte
• dramatic reduction in seismicity practice and intentionally fracture good Mine, and to KCGM for permission to
achieved, rock or blast tight slots to manage publish this paper.
• seismicity is part of the mine seismic hazard, and For further information, please
vocabulary, • there is guidance for extrapolating contact Dr Peter Mikula via
• seismic management is part of every designs to future greater depths and
work item, higher stress environments.
• chasing lower costs is subservient to Conclusion Lee, M.F., Beer, G. and Windsor, C.R. (1990)
consideration of seismic potential, Perhaps there is substance after all in my Interaction of stopes, stresses and geologic structure
claim that “now I know something about at the Mt Charlotte mine, W.A. Rockbursts and
• appropriate mining method changes
Seismicity in Mines (Ed: Fairhurst), pp. 337-343,
have been introduced, seismicity.” None of this could have been
• extraction ratios are improved, by possible without that black box untiringly
Mikula, P.A, Sharrock, G. Lee, M.F. and Kinnersly,
mining pillars and orebody extensions listening for every seismic event E. (2005) Seismicity Management Using Tight Slot
that have previously been left due to underground, and in that sense I can say, Blasting for Stress Control at Mt Charlotte Mine.
“I love my Seismic Monitoring System.” Sixth International Symposium on Rockburst and
seismic risk – better use of finite
Seismicity in Mines. Australian Centre for
mineral resources, I am not a solo performer! “In everything Geomechanics, Perth.
• seismicity is correctly managed without you do put God first, and he will direct Vaudeville, B. (1999) The folly of structures: An
much additional cost, you and crown your efforts with success” apology for rigidity. Tekhnema 5 / “Energy and
• there is greater profitability in the ways (Proverbs 3:6). My thanks to the CSIR for Chance” / Fall 1999. Copy sighted at
the PSS seismic monitoring system
orebodies can be mined,

David Ortlepp Bursary Award

A South African mining engineer’s career- University of the Witswatersrand, and will
long dedication to combating the be administered by the South African
problem of rockburst and seismicity in Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.
mines has been recognised with the Explaining its dual purpose, ACG director
creation of an award in his name to Yves Potvin said: “We have this huge need
encourage more young people to
to attract young people to specialise in
specialise in rock mechanics. Dave
any rock mechanics topics so we need to
Ortlepp has spent almost half a century
create some bursaries and scholarships to
investigating and documenting mine
get them in, and we have Dave Ortlepp
rockbursts and seismic incidents to the
who has dedicated his life to the problem
extent that his volume of work and
of rockbursting.”
knowledge on the topic is virtually
Leading mine seismicity specialist, Dave Ortlepp
unrivalled. While the method for deciding recipients continues to combat the problem of rockburst and
is not entirely defined, the broad seismicity in mines
Unfortunately, as illustrated by the global
shortage of qualified geotechnical parameters already set out are that the the latest instalment of RaSiM, but the
specialists, today not enough young people award will be open to post-graduate main fundraising effort is just beginning.
are choosing to retrace his steps.There is students worldwide; they must be Potvin called on large mining companies,
hope, however, that with the inauguration undertaking a research Masters or PhD; it consultants and suppliers to pledge their
of the David Ortlepp Bursary Award, the has to address the problems of rockburst financial support in the interest of fostering
situation will be addressed in a small, but and seismicity; and it must be in an the next generation of Dave Ortlepps.
nonetheless significant, way. English-speaking medium so that sponsor The selection committee, which will likely
Announced earlier at the International companies can derive the benefits. comprise of SAIMM and sponsor
Symposium on Rockburst and Seismicity Seed funding for the bursary to the tune company representatives, will look to
in Mines (RaSiM6) in Perth, the award of 60,000 rand has been secured via a award the first bursary next year.
was conceived by the Australian Centre generous donation from ISS International This edited article is reproduced with kind permission
for Geomechanics in conjunction with the Ltd and a portion of the proceeds from from Australia’s Mining Monthly.

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 17

Effective paste fill quality control
By Kim le Roux, Coffey Geosciences Pty Ltd

Introduction Paste fill operators were initially trained to indicator of the water content, and if the
Experience has shown that paste fill use a combination of the instrumentation cement dosage is held constant, slump
performance is sensitive to the quality of feedback and slump test results to control provides an indication of the water:cement
the paste fill. Therefore, an effective the mix. However, operator training ratio.The higher the slump the higher the
quality control program is necessary to strongly emphasised the consequences of water:cement ratio. High slump paste fill
ensure that paste fill consistently meets paste line blockages and the message was therefore acts to reduce the effect of
the design requirements. Further, the frequently reinforced by management. the binder.
data obtained from the quality control Therefore, in response to slight elevations
in line pressure, operators tended to add Slump recommendations
process provides the feedback necessary
water to the paste fill mix regardless of The following recommendations were
to optimise the paste fill mix design.
the measured slump. The outcome was implemented to improve the quality
A case study detailing an audit of the
that the actual slump of the paste fill was control of the paste fill slump:
paste fill system at a mine in Northern
often higher than the design slump and • Training now emphasises the
Ontario, Canada is used to emphasise
this negatively impacted on the strength importance of achieving the paste fill
quality control concerns that are common
developed in the paste fill. mix design as well as explaining how
to many operations. The audit covered
the slump, water content and
most aspects of the paste fill system, from
Data analysis and performance water:cement ratio are interrelated and
the paste plant design and operation to
implications how they influence both the
placement control, and management
Slump data recorded in August 2003 and reticulation and paste performance.
approaches.This article focuses on quality
January 2004 and summarised in Figure 1 • Development of an internal audit
control issues relating to slump and
shows that the paste plant consistently system that routinely reviews the slump
strength. The case study illustrates how
failed to achieve the design slump, usually data to evaluate the overall
the auditing process can provide the
producing paste fill with a slump of performance of the paste fill plant and
information feedback loop vital to
8.5 inches (22 cm) and higher. makes necessary adjustments.
improving the overall paste fill system.
Paste fill strength is sensitive to the • Development of an internal audit
Slump quality control water:cement ratio.The lower the system to evaluate the overall
Slump is the focus of the existing quality water:cement ratio the greater the performance of the paste fill plant to
control program as it is easy to measure strength that develops. Slump is an determine if other factors are
and significantly influences paste fill
reticulation and strength characteristics.
If the paste is too viscous (low slump
value) it may be difficult to pump and can 140
lead to a build-up of pressure and failures
in paste delivery lines. Conversely, if the 120
paste fill has a low viscosity (high slump
No. of Tests

value) there is a risk that it may settle out 100

in the paste line, which may also lead to a
build-up of pressure and potentially a
blockage of the line. 60
The consequence of paste line blockages
is the shutdown of the plant and 40
potentially a disruption to the mining
process. Current industry practice is to 20
install pressuremeters, fail safes, alarms,
and automatic shut-down mechanisms to
7 7.25 7.5 7.75 8 8.25 8.5 8.75 9 9.25 9.5
limit the likelihood of line blockages and
Slump (”)
damage to infrastructure.
Figure 1. Summary of standard slump cone test results measured in August 2003 and January 2004

18 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

shown in Figure 2, also contributed to
improved quality control.
The audit revealed that the most
significant limitation to the successful
implementation of the strength testing
component of the quality control
program was that the strength data were
never reviewed. In fact, most of the data
had not been entered into the database.
This meant that the opportunities for
optimising the mix design could not be
identified, nor could the early detection of
any seriously underperforming paste fill be
used to mitigate a potentially dangerous
situation. It is the author’s experience that
the internal review of quality control data
is not optimally implemented at many
paste fill operations.

Analysis of existing data

The analysis of the existing strength data
Figure 2. Paste fill sample curing chamber and UCS testing station suggested that the binder dosage of the
paste fill in secondary stopes could be
contributing to the failure to No individual was responsible for the
reduced. Paste fill in a secondary stope is
consistently achieve the mix design. overall efficiency of the quality control
not exposed during the mining process
An example of this would be a faulty program.
and therefore needs only enough strength
pressuremeter or a misaligned shaft Improvements were made by rationalising to resist liquefaction. In Clough et al
in the mixer which produce erroneous the quality control process: (1989), the liquefaction resistance
readings and may influence the
• responsibility for the paste plant was guideline of a UCS value of 100 kPa was
paste fill mix.
assigned to one individual, used to evaluate performance. Paste fill
Paste fill strength • the paste plant operators were with 3% binder dosage is routinely used
Implementation of the strength testing responsible for sampling, curing and in secondary stopes and the UCS test
component of the quality control testing the samples, and data shows that this material achieves the
program was not initially effective due • the raw strength data was forwarded 100 kPa design requirement within the
to the original division of responsibility. to the geotechnical group for analysis. first seven days of curing (see Figure 3).
The paste plant operators were The construction of a paste fill testing The influence of slump on strength partly
responsible for casting test cylinders and area in the paste plant, which included a explains the high degree of variability in
the geotechnical group were responsible humidity controlled curing chamber, as the measured strengths. An 8 inch
for the actual testing and data analysis.
Continued on page 20

Figure 3. Summary of the UCS test data for 3% binder paste fill Figure 4. Summary of the UCS test data for 4.5% binder paste fill

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 19

Continued from page 19 required to determine if the anomalous Routine strength testing provides a
results are due to the sampling, curing database that may supply the paste fill
(20 cm) slump paste fill tends to develop
and testing process, or if they are mix designer with a comprehensive
higher strength than 8.5 inch (22 cm)
representative of the paste fill in the understanding of the strength
slump material. The observed long-term
stope. This information may provide performance of the paste and therefore a
strength reduction is more likely due to
management with the opportunity to put greater degree of confidence in assessing
the poor initial curing conditions than any
in place mitigating measures. Scheduling proposed design changes.
real loss of strength. However, this should
of routine internal audits every six Research has shown that the strength of
be confirmed by testing the long-term
months will provide the opportunity to the in situ paste fill may differ from the
strength of properly cured samples.
improve the paste fill mix design. strength of samples cast in the paste
In Figure 4, the strength requirements
Improving communication between the plant. This suggests that testing of the
for a free standing vertical paste fill face
paste plant operators and the paste fill underground is the next logical
are superimposed on the 4.5% binder
geotechnical staff will facilitate the progression of the quality control
paste fill strength data. The strength
incorporation of anecdotal evidence into program. This may include “end of pipe”
requirements were calculated using
the data analysis process and provide the strength testing and extend to
relationships from Mitchell et al (1982)
backfill designers with a better undisturbed sampling and in situ testing of
– constant stope height and strike length
understanding of how the paste fill is the paste fill. Subsequent to the audit
of 25 m and widths varying from 6 m
performing. Good communication is both “end of pipe” testing and in situ
to 25 m.
particularly important for fly in – testing have been undertaken as special
The mine sequencing is such that the fly out operations. projects at the mine. The initial results
paste fill is usually exposed after about suggest that the in situ paste fill achieves a
two months of curing.Therefore, the 56- Final comments
higher strength than the paste plant
day strength is used to assess the stability Most, if not all, paste fill operators have
samples. However, more data confirming
of the paste fill. The data shows that the existing quality control programs and
that the underground strength is
4.5% binder dosage provides more than procedures. However, many merely focus
consistently higher than the paste plant
enough strength for a typical narrow on the paste fill viscosity and overlook the
samples is needed before reductions in
stope (6 m). It is also a suitable design importance of other key parameters such
the binder content can be confidently
for a typical stope width of 15 m, as strength. Further, at many operations,
however, this mix design may not provide the most important aspect of the quality
control program, the information For further information, please
enough strength for use in wider stopes
feedback loop, is not effectively contact Dr Kim le Roux via
(>25 m). The high degree of variability in
implemented. Consequently, the
the strength data makes it difficult to
predict the performance of the paste fill performance of the paste fill process is References
in any particular stope and consequently not comprehensively evaluated and Clough, G.W., Iwabuchi, J., Rad, N.S., and Kuppusamy,
conservative approach to optimising the opportunities to improve the system are T. 1989. Influence of Cementation on Liquefaction of
Sands. Journal of Geotechnical Engineering. 115 No.
mix design must be taken. lost. In addition, potential deficiencies in
paste performance may only be identified
Strength recommendations Mitchell, R.J., Olsen, R.S., and Smith, J.D.1982. Model
after failures have occurred. Studies on Cemented Tailings Used in Mine Backfill.
The most important area for improvement
While carefully controlling the viscosity of Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 19 No. 3:289-295.
is the assigning of responsibility to
the paste fill is critical to the success of a
individuals. Without a sense of ownership
paste fill system, it is also important to
the failure of only a small component of
implement strength testing as part of the
the process can jeopardise the
overall quality control program. Paste fill
effectiveness of the whole system.
strength may be influenced by the
Geotechnical staff should be trained on chemistry and grind of the tailings as well
the importance of analysing and reviewing as the water content of the paste fill.
strength data. UCS test results must be Since all of these parameters can vary
critically assessed before entering them over time it is important to measure their
Dr Kim le Roux,
associate mining
into the database to help identify influence on strength and modify the mix geotechnical engineer,
anomalous results. Further investigation is design accordingly.
Coffey Geosciences
Pty Ltd

20 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

Paste 2005 comes alive in Chile!
The 8th International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings took place in
the Chilean capital, Santiago, from 20th to 22nd April 2005.

It was an outstanding success, with over seminar, each session included a keynote
270 delegates from around the world address and a general reporter’s address, all
attending the event. With the production of which are included in the published
of copper in Chile set to expand at seminar proceedings.
around 5.8% over the next few years A noticeable development at this seminar
and with increasing pressures on water was the increasing number and diversity of
resources and concerns about the risks case studies that were presented from sites
and liabilities posed by traditional tailings that are implementing thickened tailings at
storage facilities, it was clearly an ideal full scale.The days of only reporting on
time for an event dealing with alternative laboratory and pilot scale tests, useful as
strategies for mine waste management. these studies are, are clearly over.The very
The two-day seminar consisted of valuable experiences of operators present
at the seminar added great value to the The ACG is pleased to present for the first time in
presentations by speakers from around this series of International Seminars on Paste and
the world, followed by sessions of discussion periods as well as to the Thickened Tailings, the proceedings in an attractive
information contained in the seminar hard bound format.These proceedings provide a
vigorous debate in which many of the useful source of reference material in this rapidly
concerns of the local industry were proceedings. Difficulties experienced, as well growing area of tailings management
clearly expressed. It seems that some of as successes achieved, were openly
the major concerns within Chile about presented and debated, adding to the value seminar, taking in the full spectrum of
the adoption of thickened tailings systems provided by the seminar. tailings management activities in the
are the enormous volumes that would Another noticeable aspect of Paste 2005 Chilean copper industry.This included
have to be handled (volumes of tailings in was the rapid and continuing development visits to closed and operating tailings
excess of 100 000 tonnes per day are of technology that is making the storage facilities, conventional thickener
relatively common) and the lack of economical and large-volume preparation systems, an operational pilot plant
proven ability to adequately thicken such and transportation of thickened tailings an thickener that included large outdoor
large volumes, the liquefaction potential achievable reality. Papers were presented flume tests and a spectacular ‘tailings
of thickened tailings and the lack of on advances in the design and operation cascade’, which forms part of a 86 km
appropriate legislation within Chile of thickeners as well as advances in long concrete channel transporting tailings
recognising the potential use of thickened pumping technology, an example being the from the mine to the storage site.The
or paste tailings. Whilst these topics may possible pumping of relatively high yield day was rounded off by a wonderful
be particularly relevant to Chile, they stress tailings using centrifugal pumps. lunch at the Cauquenes Thermal Springs
were clearly of relevance to many A variety of alternative strategies for resort, where problems of “waist”
other delegates, as demonstrated in managing thickened tailings once they management were attended to by most
the discussion sessions. reach the tailings storage facility were also delegates.
presented and a number of novel To obtain your copy of the 8th
The opening keynote address was given by
concepts emerged.
Professor David Boger of The University of International Seminar on Paste and
Melbourne, who gave a talk entitled,‘Tailings An exceptionally well-organised technical Thickened Tailings proceedings, please
waste minimisation, rheology and the triple visit was arranged for the final day of the contact the ACG.
bottom line’.This address set the tone for
the seminar, where highly technical aspects
relating to the rheology of thickened tailings
were debated alongside issues of
environmental responsibility and corporate
stewardship.The seminar was divided into
sessions dealing with rheology and
thickening, tailings transport, surface
disposal, and mine backfilling. Aside from
the papers that were presented at the
Paste 2005 presented an insight into tailings activities in Chile

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 21

9th International Paste and Thickened Tailings
Seminar comes home to Europe
By Phil Newman, Golder Associates (UK) Ltd

OK, so it is a bit of a stretch to claim that hydraulic fill. Over 30 mines currently use
Europe is the birthplace of mining, but paste backfill and a number of these are
numerous modern mining projects have to located in Europe.
deal with Roman remains when assessing While mining engineers were marvelling
environmental impact! The pyrite belt in about the advantages of paste backfill,
southern Spain and Portugal has been The plant at Neves Corvo feeds both
those involved in the disposal of tailings
providing copper and tin for over two borehole and truck, indicating one of the
on surface were also finding advantages
millennia, and judging by the recent flurry advantages of paste backfill – the ability to
with reducing the water content in the
of new mines and projects (Aguablanca, batch the paste via ready-mix truck to a
tailings. The use of thickened tailings on
Las Cruces, Aguas Tenidas and Lomero remote borehole, in this case, some 3 km
surface was pioneered in the 1970s and
Poyatos) the region will continue to be a from the plant. In 2001, the Zinkgruvan
interest in such applications has
major European mining centre. Mine in Sweden commissioned a highly
increased rapidly in recent years, given
automated 90 tph paste backfill plant.
Paste backfill is not alien to the European the advantages with respect to stability,
mining industry and the Bad Grund mine reduced footprint, and water conservation. The most recent addition to the
in Germany developed one of the first European paste backfill portfolio was the
Paste backfill in Europe Lisheen Mine in Ireland. At 150 tph, the
paste systems in the world during the
After the closure of the Bad Grund mine plant is the largest paste backfill plant
1980s. The system involved a highly
in 1987, paste backfill briefly continued at constructed in Europe. The plant was
controlled mixture of tailings and coarse
Bad Bleiburg in Austria until the mine commissioned in 2004 and a site visit to
aggregate up to 30 mm diameter, pumped
closed due to exhaustion of reserves. the surface plant facility is proposed as
underground using piston pumps at
A thickened tailings backfill plant was part of the 9th International Seminar on
pressures in excess of 100 Bar.
constructed at the Galmoy Mine in 1997 Paste and Thickened Tailings, to be held in
The system provided excellent quality
and paste backfill reappeared in Europe in Limerick, Ireland, in April 2006.
tight fill at relatively low cement contents.
1998 when the Cayeli Mine in Turkey
Paste technology is now widely accepted, A number of mines (existing and
constructed a 90 tph plant. At about the
especially for large stopes where the proposed) are currently investigating
same time, the Neves Corvo Mine in
ability to continuously pour cemented paste backfill in Finland, Sweden, Ireland,
Portugal initiated strength and flow loop
backfill can dramatically improve cycle Spain and Greece and it is likely that
testing leading to the commissioning of
times when compared with conventional more plants will be constructed and
their 100 tph backfill plant in 1999.
commissioned in Europe in the
coming years.

Surface paste disposal in Europe

On April 25, 1998, a tailings dam failure of
the Los Frailes lead-zinc mine at
Aznalcóllar near Seville, Spain, released
4–5 million cubic meters of toxic tailings
slurries and liquid into nearby Río Agrio, a
tributary to Río Guadiamar.The slurry
wave covered several thousand hectares
of farmland, and threatened the Doñana
National Park, a UN World Heritage Area.
As a result of this failure, and the
subsequent cyanide tailings spill in
Romania in January 2000 (Baie Mare), the
European government embarked on a

The Aughinish Alumina Ltd's bauxite refinery, located on the southern bank of the Shannon estuary in western Ireland

22 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter

review of mine waste management The use of paste for surface disposal is didn’t want to be rude but we have been
practice culminating in the publication of a also the subject of an innovative research mining in this area for over a thousand
BREF document (Best available project at the Neves Corvo copper mine years….”.
technology (BAT) REFerence document) in southern Portugal. The mine already London remains a major financial centre
entitled “Reference Document on Best operates a successful paste backfill plant, for the mining industry and its
Available Techniques for Management of and as this article is being written, the importance has grown during the current
Tailings and Waste-Rock in Mining commissioning of a 25 m3/hr pilot paste growth cycle with the AIM (Alternative
Activites”, July 2004. The document talks plant to trial surface disposal is ongoing. Investment Market) proving popular with
about both backfill and the use of Following 4 years of laboratory and field many junior mining companies. The
thickened tailings for surface disposal as trials, approximately 1 hectare of the concentration of mining consultants and
BAT to reduce the impact and risk of existing sub-aqueous slurry disposal facility mining suppliers that have their origins in
tailings management. The document has is being converted to sub-aerial paste Europe proves that the industry can
been finalised but not yet formally disposal. The pilot trial is expected to last live alongside an over-crowded and
adopted by the European commission 6 months and some 50,000 m3 of paste increasingly sceptical populace.
and it can be downloaded in its entirety will be stacked and monitored for at least
So, for the time being anyway, the
(557 pages) from the following website: 2 years. The trial provides a unique
European mining industry will run the risk opportunity to monitor geotechnical and
of unearthing Roman remains to exploit
The above document is already geochemical performance of stacked
new deposits in an environmentally
influencing tailings and waste rock design, paste. The timescale of the project may
responsible manner.
particularly in Spain where the memories appear long but the tailings are up to
For more information about Paste 2006
of the Los Frailes event are still fresh. 80% pyrite and significant work on the
please visit
Many new mines in the area are mitigation of oxidation impacts has been
proposing dry stacking (as filter cake), completed. Beneficial physical
thickened tailings disposal or a dual characteristics of paste, namely low
disposal system utilising paste backfill and permeability and relatively high saturation,
surface paste disposal. allow cell construction and capping within
a timeframe conducive to a sustainable
The aluminium industry has been
closure program for the mine.
practising dry stacking of paste tailings for
many years and a fine example of the Summary Mr Phil Newman,
director, Golder
technology can be found in Europe, at the Although primary metal production in Associates (UK) Ltd
Aughinish Alumina Limited (AAL) bauxite Europe does not account for a large
refinery in Limerick, Ireland. The facility proportion of world consumption (1% of
has been dry stacking red mud tailings Au and 7% of Cu), the continent still has
since 1983 and the current stack is plenty to offer the mining and mineral
approximately 103 hectares in size and is processing industry. Experience counts
over 21 m high. The red mud vacuum for something and I am reminded of a
filtration process results in a filter cake, Swedish mine manager once telling me
which is re-pulped and sheared before after a difficult board meeting with their
being pumped at pressures up to 100 Bar, new owners (not of European origin) “I
some 2 km to the facility.
The facility must conform with strict EPA
issued Integrated Pollution Prevention &
Control Licensing standards related to
SARES 2005
3rd South African Rock Engineering Symposium
seepage and dust control (the stack
‘best practices in rock engineering’
incorporates an extensive sprinkler
system). Paste 2006 delegates will have a 10-12 October 2005
unique opportunity to visit the facility Randburg, Gauteng, South Africa
thanks to the generosity of AAL. Please visit for further information.

Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter 23

ACG 2005–2006 Event Schedule*
Title Date Where

Creating Cost Effective Rockdumps and Stockpiles 26–27 May 2005 Hotel Ibis, Perth,WA
Advanced Geomechanics in Underground Mines 2–5 August 2005 Hotel Ibis, Perth,WA
• Sirovision-3D Mapping for Open Pit and Underground
Applications 2 August 2005
• Numerical Modelling and Seismic Monitoring 3 August 2005
• New Developments in Ground Support 4 August 2005
• Flac3D Numerical Modelling 5 August 2005
Blasting for Stable Slopes 6–7 October 2005 Hotel Ibis, Perth,WA
Underground Mining Methods Seminar Series
Open stope mining and caving geomechanics 25–28 October 2005 Hotel Ibis, Perth,WA
Tailings & Paste Management, and
Decommissioning & Water Management 30 Nov–2 Dec 2005 Hotel Ibis, Perth,WA
2nd International Seminar on Strategic
versus Tactical Approaches in Mining 8–10 March 2006 Novotel Langley, Perth,WA
1st International Seminar on Mine Closure 13–15 September 2006 Sheraton Perth Hotel, Perth,WA
Regional and on-site courses on demand throughout 2005:
• Management and Operation of Tailings Storage Facilities
• Ground Control at the Mine Face Training Course
• Practical Rock Engineering Skills Development
Ground control systems, rockmass characterisation, geomechanical stope design

* The ACG event schedule is subject to change.

ACG Corporate Affiliate Membership

The ACG is delighted to announce that Rock Engineering (Aust.) Pty Ltd and PT Freeport Indonesia are our newest Corporate
Affiliate Members.
Some benefits received by our highly valued Affiliate Members include discounted ACG course registration fees, reduced costs
for on-site training courses, publications and training tools.
For more information about the ACG’s Corporate Affiliate Program, please contact Josephine.

Management and Safety of Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs)

The ACG seeks industry support to develop a training video/DVD to advance mine safety.The video aims to assist operators to
recognise and react to the potential hazards involved in managing and operating a tailings storage facility. Proposed content
topics include:
• risk management & geotechnical issues in tailings disposal
• failure types – early warning signs
• operational issues that lead to instability problems
• excessive seepage – recognition and response
The ACG invites your company to advance the safety conditions for TSF workers by becoming an active sponsor of this unique
project. Contact the ACG for further information.

Australian Centre for Geomechanics PO Box 3296 – Broadway, Nedlands, Western Australia, AUSTRALIA 6009
Ph. + 61 8 6488 3300 Fax. +61 8 6488 1130

24 Australian Centre for Geomechanics • May 2005 Newsletter