Large Excavations in Weak Mudstone for the Porgera Mine Plant Development

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1991
The plant and processing site at Porgera has been built on a levelled mudstone ridge about lkm E of the mine. Excavation of 7xl06m3 of soil and rock was necessary to achieve the required area. The exposed mudstone belongs to the Chico Formation and is weak, sheared and readily breaks down by slaking upon exposure. Tectonic uplift and subsequent erosion have produced the present landscape of narrow bedrock ridges, with deep colluvium in the incised valleys. The deep excavation to a maximum of 60m, has rapidly unloaded the mudstone, and subsequent stress relief has caused rebound and dilation of the material. The processes of pore pressure equilibration, softening, progressive failure and loosening, combine to deteriorate the newly exposed rock mass. These processes are commonly associated with pre-existing shear surfaces, fissures and a
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