Managing the Risk of Failure in the Pit 1A Highwall at Telfer Gold Mine, Telfer WA
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 1994
A failure of the Pit IA highwall in July 1989 led Newcrest Mining Ltd's Telfer Gold Mine to commence underground operations approximately 12 months ahead of schedule. The failure presented four major challenges to management: 1. how to maximise the recovery of the Middle Vale Reef (MVR) in the open pit: 2. how to minimise the risk to personnel involved in the extraction of the remaining open pit ore; 3. how to avoid disruption to ore supply: and 4. how to maintain a permanent and safe means of accessing the underground operations from the base of the pit. The risks associated with meeting these challenges were minimised through the installation of a complex network of real time slope monitoring equipment. These monitors were connected to an alarm system which was combined with detailed operational procedures to be carried out in the event of a highwall alarm being triggered. The accuracy with which the risk of failure has been managed was demonstrated recently when the onset of a second failure was initially identified some 13 months prior to its ultimate collapse in October 1992. The location, timing and size of the failure was able to be predicted allowing appropriate precautionary measures to be taken to ensure safety of access to the underground portal and pumping equipment in the base of the pit. This paper reviews the sequence of events leading to both the July 1989 and October 1992 failures of the Pit 1A highwall and the monitoring equipment and procedures used to identify, quantify and manage the risk to personnel operating in the base of the pit.