Application Of Slope Stability Radar For Improved Safety And Productivity In The Global Mining Industry - Introduction - Preprint 09-118

Harries, N.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2009
The management of risks associated with slope instability is an essential process in the safe and economic operation of open cut mines. The ?slope stability radar? (SSR) has been developed to better manage those risks. The SSR remotely scans rock slopes to continuously measure any surface movement and can be used to detect and alert users of wall movements with sub-millimeter precision. The high level of movement precision and broad area coverage of the rock face can allow for a better understanding of the geomechanics of slope deformation, including magnitude of potential failures and additional warning time of impending instability. Additionally, radar waves adequately penetrate through rain, dust and smoke to give reliable measurements, 24 hours a day. SSR systems have been deployed in many metalliferous and coal mines throughout the world. Over 80 systems are currently being used with current operations in 17 countries. Greater than 200 rock slope collapses and waste dump failures (from several to millions of tones) have been monitored, with ?warning? precursor movements recorded by the SSR. This technology enables a radical change in the management of risks in open cut mining. This paper will present recent case studies of the SSR operation in coal and metalliferous mines. Slope Stability Hazards and Rock Slope Monitoring in Open Pit Mines Surface mining often creates excavation boundaries which are steeper than those would be created under natural processes in the same rock type. They are also undertake quite rapid stress changes during mining and are influenced by significant external forces such as blast vibrations and changes in groundwater. These conditions are likely to allow some degree of instability to develop in the pit slopes. The hazards associated with this instability of pit slopes can be extremely variable in character; ranging from small cobble sized rocks dislodging and falling from mine benches to complete collapse of entire pit walls. It is usually the position of mine geotechnical or geological staff to assess these hazards for mine operations. The assessment of hazards due to unstable slopes can be done by visual observation of precursor signs such as fracturing or rilling of loose material. A more reliable indicator of instability involves the quantitative measurement of outward movement and acceleration of material as an instability mechanism develops. There is strong evidence that small precursor movements of a rock wall occur for an extended period prior to rock slope collapse (Hoek and Bray, 1981). Development of a monitoring system, adopting acceptable slope deformation criteria coupled with warning systems and design of stabilization or risk reduction measures if appropriate has become a standard method of dealing with slope instability. Framework for Slope Hazard Management using the SSR A framework for the management of slope hazards is shown in Figure 1 (discussed in detail in Harries, 2007). Although this framework is specifically for use with the Slope Stability Radar, a similar framework could be developed for other monitoring technologies for monitoring slope deformation. An important point to consider is the sequential nature of the hazard management framework from selecting the context ? identifying hazards ? analysing hazards ? evaluating hazards ? treating hazards. [ ] Once the context of the system has been developed (for example ? to monitor for rapid bench scale collapse), the identification of hazards is the next stage in hazard management. Identification of slope hazards can be relatively straightforward due to the visual nature of the information that the SSR system produces. The areas of excessive wall deformation are highlighted in color maps of the mine slope with a co-aligned photographic image to review the actual site of interest. The responsible personnel must then analyses this data, usually reviewing the deformation style and rate, as well as the size of area that appears to be failing. This information can then be evaluated against organisation protocols (for example it may be only a small sub-bench failure that will be ?caught? by existing benches and hence can be categorized as a lower risk). Once these hazards are evaluated they can then be treated if required. Two major options are available to reduce the risk during this treatment option. We can reduce the likelihood of failure ? for example by buttressing the failure or de-pressurising of water pressures in a slope. However, the most likely plan of action is to reduce the consequence of the failure. One of the most successful opportunities to reduce the consequence of a slope failure is to ensure that no personnel or mining equipment is present at the location of a slope failure when collapse finally occurs. This has been the major benefit of the SSR system to the different mining operations around the world. SLOPE STABILITY RADAR TECHNOLOGY OUTLINE Slope Stability Radar system specifications and capabilities: ? Measurement precision +/- 0.1mm (std.) ? Perforated dish and other features enable it to operate in high wind conditions ? Measurement range is 1700 metres ? Scans 270 degrees horizontally and 120 degrees vertically ? 1 ? 30 minute repeat rate for area scans (varies according to area being scanned ? RF exposure (<0.05mW/cm2) is a factor of 200 below the acceptable limit for the general population (1 mW/cm2) ? Tolerant to vibration and mining equipment ? The system weighs approximately 1500 Kg ? Remote area power supply enabling unmanned, continuous 24/7 monitoring ? Real time monitoring
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