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GeoTechMine:  Geotechnical Aspects in Mining

Proposed B.C. mine plans to reduce water content in waste but still use tailings dams
Thursday, December 31, 2015
KGHM International’s proposed Ajax copper and gold project will be one of the first tests of the B.C. government’s approval of waste storage for large open pit mines after the Mount Polley mine dam failure in 2014. read more »
Imperial Metals escapes charges from Mount Polley tailings breach
Thursday, December 17, 2015
No charges will be laid by the provincial government due to the failure of the Mount Polley tailings dam, said the B.C. chief mines inspector. The chief inspector found that the mine and its engineers employed weak practices on the mine site. read more »
Australian laser scanners keep vigilant eye on open pit miners under constant threat of wall collapse
Monday, August 17, 2015
A laser scanner used by forensic police to examine crime scenes has now been employed to keep open pit miners safe from collapsing walls. read more »
GroundProbe releases new pit monitoring radar
Thursday, June 18, 2015
GroundProbe has released its new slope stability monitoring radar for pit mining, to increase safety by identifying slope instability, which will also boost mining productivity. read more »
Engineering firm focuses on tailings, backfill management
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
To the untrained eye, a visit to Kovit Engineering’s lab in Sudbury looks like a number of adults playing with combinations of sand, silt and water. read more »
Wits-SRK link boosts rock engineering skills
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Collaboration between Wits University’s School of Mining Engineering and consulting engineers SRK Consulting is nurturing scarce rock engineering expertise, benefiting the mining and other sectors in Africa and beyond. read more »
Monarques Gold set to test new mining technology in Quebec
Monday, March 09, 2015
Gold-focused Monarques Gold Corp. will be testing new technology that it hopes will “revolutionize” the underground mining of narrow ore bodies at shallow angles. read more »
Are other tailings ponds in B.C. at risk of failing?
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
How many more of the 98 mine tailings ponds in B.C. are vulnerable to sudden, unexpected collapse? And is there a viable alternative to storing massive amounts of mine waste under water behind dams? read more »
Mount Polley Geotechnical Report Released
Friday, January 30, 2015
Independent inquiry into the Mount Polley tailings pond breach concluded that evidence indicates the breach was the result of a failure in the foundation of the embankment read more »
Geotechnical inspections pinpoint concerns at mine dams: documents
Thursday, December 11, 2014
AuRico Gold will remove a portion of the 70,000 trees planted on a tailings dam after the province said the seedlings were a potential safety concern. read more »
Crack in Mount Polley mine’s dam noted in 2010 inspection report
Friday, September 26, 2014
A 2010 dam safety inspection at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine identified several concerns, including the discovery of a 10 to 15-metre long “tension” crack in the earthen dam. read more »
Canada’s Mount Polley disaster: experts warned tailings pond 'getting large'
Monday, August 11, 2014
A breach at Imperial Metals' (TSX:III) Mount Polley Mine tailings pond in Canada’s British Columbia may have been avoided had the company listened to concerns raised by engineers that designed the containment system, Knight Piésold Consulting said. read more »
Statement by Knight Piésold Ltd. regarding the Mount Polley Mining Incident
Friday, August 08, 2014
The breach of the tailings storage facility at Mount Polley is an extremely unfortunate incident and Knight Piésold Ltd. shares the concerns with respect to the effects to local communities, First Nations and the environment. As the former Engineer of Record of the tailings storage facility at Mount Polley, we feel it appropriate to provide some clarity and transparency of the role of Knight Piésold Ltd. read more »
Sugarloaf mine subsidence areas may be off limits for a decade
Thursday, April 03, 2014
A section of Sugarloaf State Conservation Area in New South Wales, Australia is expected to be closed to the public for more than a decade as authorities struggle to deal with threats to safety posed by mine subsidence damage.  read more »
The book covers 150 years of commercial mining activity in South Africa
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
To hear state Rep. James McLaughlin explain it as he walks Chase Street, history looms ominously underground here. At any moment, it seems, a 19th century coal mine shaft could cave in beneath his feet. read more »
Rio Tinto partners with CRCMining on block caving technology
Friday, January 31, 2014
Rio Tinto has partnered with CRCMining, Newcrest, and Elexon Electronics to develop cave flow tracking systems for use in block caving operations. read more »
Satellite imagery able to detect surface deformation caused by mining
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
University of Cape Town (UCT) PhD graduate Dr Jeanine Engelbrecht has asserted in her thesis that microwave imagery captured from earth-orbiting satellites is able to measure deformation caused by underground mining. read more »
Atlas Copco acquires geotechnical drilling company
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Atlas Copco has acquired Geawelltech, a Swedish manufacturer of geotechnical drilling equipment. The move makes sense for Atlas, as Geawelltech has been a distributor of Atlas well and geotechnical drilling equipment for a number of years. read more »
What characterises good geotechnical engineering?
Friday, November 29, 2013
WSP’s Clive Powell asks what characterises good geotechnical engineering, and reflects on how the industry will need to move on in the future. read more »
Kennecott Planned for Imminent Slide Months in Advance
Friday, April 12, 2013
With the use of technology and careful watching, damage caused by the slide at Kennecott's Bingham Canyon Mine was minimized before it even happened. read more »
Bingham Canyon Mine Slope Failure
Friday, April 12, 2013
A massive slope failure has occurred at the open pit of the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah. Nobody was hurt: the mine had been monitoring movement and when deformation increased from 1 mm a day to 5 mms day they pulled out all workers. read more »
Stability Analysis of Tailings Dams – Focus on Numerical Modelling
Monday, March 26, 2012
Here is a link to a Licentiate Thesis by Muhammad Auchar Zardari of the Lulea University of Technology in Sweden. Its title is Stability Analysis of Tailings Dams – Focus on Numerical Modelling.  read more »
Groundwater Modeling in Decision Making About Mine Tailings, Waste Rock, and Heap Leach Facilities
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Let me discuss modelling, calculating, and thinking as part of the decision making process. In particular, I write of those essential modern aids to judgment, namely conceptual models and the running of computer codes.  read more »
Conceptual Models for Mining Analysis and Decision Making
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Conceptual models are key aspects of mine modelling, analysis, and decision making. With our limited thinking ability, we need concepts, or models, of reality before we can fully comprehend, understand, and mentally manipulate reality.  read more »
The Observational Method for Groundwater Modeling & Practicality
Monday, March 19, 2012
One of the enduring mysteries of professional practice is why groundwater experts never apply the Observational Method in their ever-more sophisticated groundwater modeling and monitoring work.  read more »
Monte Carlo Analysis
Friday, March 16, 2012
Monte Carlo is a principality where you can go and gamble to the profit of the royalty of a small kingdom. It is also the most powerful way to quantify the probability distribution of an outcome of an essentially random process. read more »
Cover Technology: Wismut to Suncor’s Pond 5
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Clap! The sound a big volume of mining proceedings made when it landed on my desk this morning. read more »
USGS Data - Global Multi-resolution Terrain Elevation Data 2010 (GMTED2010)
Thursday, December 01, 2011
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) have collaborated on the development of a notably enhanced global elevation model named the Global Multi-resolution Terrain Elevation Data 2010 (GMTED2010) that replaces GTOPO30 as the elevation dataset of choice for global and continental scale applications. read more »
On seismic signals from landslides – new research
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
See a massive rock avalanche in action somewhere up in Alps and learn how to read seismic recordings to be able to detect this kind of events. read more »
Pyrite Damages 20,000 Irish Houses and Coal Miners Facilities
Friday, November 18, 2011
Apparently 20,000 new houses in Ireland are cracked and damaged because a pyrite-rich rock from a local quarry was used in construction of the houses. read more »
The Basic Principles of Mine Tailings Management
Friday, June 24, 2011
The story of tailings management is the story of application of a few basic principles. All involve control of the forces of nature. read more »
California Earthquake Fault Zone Maps
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The index map identifies all Official Maps of Earthquake Fault Zones delineated by the California Geological Survey through December 2010 under the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act. Individual Earthquake Fault Zone Maps can be viewed on screen. Digital image files (pdf) and Geographic Information System files (GIS) of individual maps can be downloaded by selecting a specific quadrangle map. read more »
Soil Atlas of the Northern Circumpolar Region
Monday, December 06, 2010
The 144 pages atlas is the result of a three-year collaborative project with partners from northern EU countries, as well as Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the USA and Russia and gives a detailed overview of circumpolar soil resources relevant also to agriculture, forest management, water management, land use planning, infrastructure and housing and energy transport networks. read more »
Presentations from Tailings and Mine Waste 2010 Conference
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The Tailings & Mine Waste 2010 conference took place in Vail, Colorado. If you did not attend the conference and do not have a copy of the proceedings, here is how you can access many of the excellent presentations read more »
MSHA to Review Mine Tailings Dam Safety
Monday, August 30, 2010
Here is an issue that is fascinating and the information is a trifle tedious to find. The topic is a call from MSHA for comments on ways to make mine tailings dams safer. read more »
Quicksand Incident Control
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
An incident is a small event that is a bit out of the ordinary; a mere trifle; a nuisance & irritation; a bit embarrassing maybe; but in the end nothing to worry about. Or is this correct? read more »
Closure of Remote Historic Underground Mines in Desert Environments
Monday, July 05, 2010
Geotechnical solutions were developed for closure of two historic underground borate mines in the deserts of California: the old Borate Mine located in the Mojave Desert and the Lila C. Mine near Death Valley. read more »
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
When water from rainfall moves down through the soil and encounters bedrock in karst terrain, the bedrock begins to dissolve along horizontal and vertical cracks and crevices in the rock. Eventually, these cracks and crevices ... read more »
June 2010 Geology and GSA Today highlights
Friday, May 28, 2010
Fossils, faulting, continent formation, river evolution, eolian sedimentation - the June Geology covers all this and more, with input from scientists around the world. Highlights include the first field evidence of neotectonic activity in the Hochschwab karst massif; in-situ sampling from the AlpTransit tunnel site; discovery in Mexico of the oldest known Bryozoan fossils; and fingerprinting of magmatic glasses and crystals to determine their "rock DNA." GSA Today examines microbial ecosystems in the Tibetan Plateau. read more »
Computing in Mining/Geotechnical Engineering
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The enormous advances in computational hardware and software resources over the last 15 years resulted in the development, of new, nonconventional data-processing and simulation methods. read more »
Boldly Going Where No Man (or Woman) Goes: USGS Unmanned Aircraft
Friday, January 08, 2010
"In dangerous and remote areas, such as polar regions, volcanic islands, and expansive deserts, remote-controlled unmanned aircraft can provide more detailed, more timely data about the status of natural resources and environmental conditions than would be feasible by any other means ..."  read more »
Deeper open pits
Monday, December 07, 2009
Surface mines are always seeking to extract more from their existing ore bodies by going deeper, or steeper, or both. Doug Minchin, Director, Rock Australia notes that as well as open pit mines getting larger and deeper, slope design is becoming more aggressive with concomitant high risk in size of failures and consequences. "Slope Failure, even a small rock fall threatens the safety of personnel, plant and equipment, productivity and potentially overall mine viability." read more »
Mine GeoWaste Engineering: the great texts on geotechnical engineering
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Here is what I have written on the standard texts on geotechnical engineering. These are the books and resources you should read if you are a geotechnical engineer in the mining industry read more »
Geotechnical Engineering of Oil Sands Tailings
Friday, November 13, 2009
A fine paper at the Banff, Alberta conference on Tailings & Mine Waste is that by John Sobokowicz and Norbert Morgenstern. It is called “A Geotechnical Perspective on Oil Sands Tailings.” read more »
DOE-Sponsored Mississippi Project Hits 1-Million-Ton Milestone for Injected CO2
Thursday, November 05, 2009
A large-scale carbon dioxide (CO2) storage project in Mississippi has become the fifth worldwide to reach the important milestone of more than 1 million tons injected. As a result, it is helping to both further carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a mitigation strategy for global climate change and move forward G-8 recommendations for launching 20 projects of this type internationally by 2010. read more »
Mining Peer Reviewers
Monday, October 05, 2009
A few random thoughts about those who are the peer reviewers for mines of the geotechnical structures that mines build, including the tailings impoundment, the waste rock dump, and the heap leach pad.  read more »
Monitoring faults could predict earthquakes: study
Thursday, October 02, 2009
Geologists working near California's San Andreas Fault have found a way to monitor the strength of a geologic fault — a finding which could be used to predict when a fault would fail and cause an earthquake. read more »
Coal-mining Hazard Resembles Explosive Volcanic Eruption, Study Shows
Friday, October 02, 2009
Worldwide, thousands of workers die every year from mining accidents, and instantaneous coal outbursts in underground mines are among the major killers. But although scientists have been investigating coal outbursts for more than 150 years, the precise mechanism is still unknown. read more »
Cost breaking
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Fragmentation within the mine is often overlooked as a critical element in the process and can be used to provide essential process control information. SPLIT digital fragmentation technology has been available for some time, with applications from the mine with post-blast analysis at the muck pile face through to the mechanical comminution circuit with ... read more »
The road to Grasberg
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Until Bechtel built the first road in the early 1970s, and Freeport Indonesia subsequently developed the area, subrivers were the only access inland to the foothills of the Jayawijaya mountain range on Irian Jaya that hosts what is arguably the greatest ore complex discovered in the world to date, the Grasberg and Ertsberg copper gold deposits. read more »
CCS all about finding the ‘right rocks’
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Coal Tech 2009 conference, held on September 15-16th, hosted a range of presentations on technologies including carbon capture and storage (CCS); coal-to-liquids; underground coal gasification; and syngas.  read more »
Frack Attack - Drilling Technique Under Scrutiny
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Four years after a widely used but controversial oil and gas production technology was exempted from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Congress is taking another look at the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. read more »
Oil Sands Effective Stress & Analysis
Friday, May 29, 2009
A wise professor made a presentation that caputured an enduring fact and a recent change in tailings analysis and modeling. read more »
Geomorphic Reclamation of Uranium Mill Tailings
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Review of a paper on the use of a computer code to design and construct reclamation works for abondoned uranium mill tailings piles in Wyoming. read more »
Clay & Tailings Consolidation
Monday, March 09, 2009
In the last few months on tailings projects from the furthest north of Canada to the tip of South America I have looked at consolidation analyses done to predict how long it will take to consolidate the tailings. read more »
Rapid Mining According to Rio Tinto
Thursday, February 26, 2009
A review of the 2009 SME conference session on rapid mining comparing tunnel advance rates in the civil and mining industries.  read more »
Man-made earthquake?
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Did dam trigger the devastating 2008 Sichuan quake? read more »
Northwest Community College School of Exploration & Mining
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Discussions with staff and students from the Northwest Community College on learning for and working in the BC mining industry read more »
Geogrid-reinforced Tailings Covers
Monday, October 27, 2008
Here is a figure that shows how fill placed over the crust that may form on the top of a soft tailings deposit may respond to loading by the wheel of a vehicle trying to spread a new reclamation cover. read more »
Snowden on-line library
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Snowden is a respected consulting company serving the mining industry in Australia and North America. Here is a link to papers & publications on mining and related to mining by Snowden staff. read more »
Mine Mound Archaeology
Friday, July 11, 2008
What evidence is there in the archaeological record for the very-long-term performance of mine waste disposal facilities? A paper from twenty-five years ago gives some interesting answers. read more »
Paste Fill Fences
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The Red Lake Mine in eastern Ontario currently does nearly sixty percent of its mining using overhand cut and fill, twenty-five percent using underhand cut and fill, and about fifteen percent using pillar recovery. read more »
Oboni on Risk
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Franco & Cesar Oboni, a father and son team, have just published a paperback with the title “Improving Sustainability through Reasonable Risk and Crisis Management”. read more »
Geosynthetics for Uranium Wastes: a Brief History
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Are geosynthetics affected by the constituents you would expect to find in waste disposal facilities at uranium mines? Here are some historical opinions we found on this issue. read more »
Settle 3D by Rocscience
Friday, December 14, 2007
In the industrial area of Albuquerque is a large oil tank sitting on foundations I designed. One of the design issues was just how much the soft silty sand beneath the footing would settle. read more »
Earthquake Resources & Consultants
Friday, December 14, 2007
The mine facility most susceptible to earthquake damage is the tailings impoundment. Here are some links to sources of data on earthquakes and consultants who may be able to help you. read more »
Gully Inception
Friday, August 31, 2007
Here is a detailed review of a paper called Thresholds, Triggers and Time –Erosion Risk on Evolving Reclaimed Landforms after Bauxite Mining in the Darling Range, Western Australia by F.C. Mengler and R.J. Gilkes read more »
Long-term Erosion Control Per NRC Requirements
Friday, August 31, 2007
Soon after joining the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project, I was sent to Washington, D.C. to meet with Ted Johnson of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency. read more »
Ken Weaver’s New Book on Grouting
Friday, July 20, 2007
I was honored to work under Ken Weaver’s direction of the Cannon Mine Tailings impoundment. We pumped about one million dollars worth of grout into the rock foundations read more »
Paste Tailings
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
The March 2007 International Mining includes a supplement on Paste Tailings Management. This valuable supplement includes the following articles read more »
Erosion Control Products
Friday, May 11, 2007
It takes a paper magazine to remind you of information that has not yet found its way across the internet. I recently got the March/April issue of Erosion Control. read more »
Mine Sites & Publications
Friday, May 11, 2007
A library should be a quiet, wood-paneled room where you can browse dusty magazines and peek into the past. Here are some sites with the look and feel of old magazines in a quiet library. read more »
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
It seems so obvious: most mines involve cutting into rock, and rock is fractured. Therefore the stability and groundwater flow patterns of the mine opening, whether open pit or underground, will be controlled by the fractures. read more »
Total Robot Stations
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
David Cook writes in the December issue of Geotechnical News of Total Robotic Stations and Remote Data Capture in civil engineering construction. He defines a Total Robot Station thus read more »
Grout Terminologies
Monday, March 05, 2007
Grout terminology is as specialized a language as any dialect or in-group-speak. Luckily for us the terminology is readily available at this link read more »
Brazilian Dam Burst
Friday, March 02, 2007
The web was recently awash in the flood of news about the failure of a “bauxite mine tailings dam burst” in Brazilian read more »
Engineering Advances
Friday, February 23, 2007
The conventional view of science is that it is the process of observing, hypothesizing, testing, confirming or rejecting, and adopting the hypothesis that explains the observed phenomenon read more »
Mine Sand Piles
Thursday, February 22, 2007
My father regularly drove us out to those piles of golden sand, so soft and warm in the summer sun. And here we would spend happy hours climbing up the sand and sliding down, and climbing up and sliding down read more »
GIS Ten Percent
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Before the mine, a forest. With a bit of luck, after the mine, a forest. We need trees aplenty to counteract global warming. read more »
Soil Grouting
Friday, February 09, 2007
Soil grouting is the topic of a comprehensive new paper from BiTech Publishers and their premier magazine Geotechnical News. The paper is Soil Grouting – There’s Only One Way to View It. read more »
Roadside Geology
Friday, February 02, 2007
I own eleven of the Roadside Geology books. One of my ambitions is to own all thirty or more. It is not the possession of more books that interests and excites me.  read more »
Rock Pile Transient Seepage
Friday, February 02, 2007
This is the story of a waste rock dump success/failure. The story is in a paper from BiTech Publishers and their premier magazine Geotechnical News. read more »
Software Directory
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Software Directory catalogues 1681 programs in the fields of Geotechnical Engineering, Soil Mechanics, Rock Mechanics, Engineering Geology read more »
Grouting Course
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Grouting is difficult; but it will be much easier if you attend a course planned in Denver in April 2007. The course is for owners, engineers, and contractors read more »
Fort Knox Gold Mine Landfill
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Landfills at mines seldom get much attention. The size and glory of the waste rock dump, the heap leach pad, and the tailings impoundment quickly overshadow the lowly landfill. read more »
INEEL Disposal Facility
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
For all those interested in the design of waste disposal facilities, the volume on the design of a mixed waste disposal facility at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratories (INEEL) is a must-read. read more »
Unpaved Road Maintenance
Friday, December 01, 2006
Although the reference I describe here does not deal with mines, I consider the topic and the treatment worthy of reference by the civil and geotechnical engineer and miner read more »
Brazil Cover Design Manual
Friday, December 01, 2006
This manual is as good a summary of all the relevant theory and practice of unsaturated cover design as any I have come across. read more »
Discrete Element Method (DEM)
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The sales brochures are readily available. The technical papers are not. What the computer software does is readily obvious. What can yet be done to benefit the mining industry is not. read more »
DEM Solutions
Monday, November 06, 2006
As so often, John Chadwick and International Mining are ahead. In the article Process Control, John provides this news of movements in the world of advanced software and engineering read more »
Good Practice Mining Publications
Friday, November 03, 2006
The International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) website on Tailings: Good Practice continues to bring us easy access to view or purchase books newly posted/advertised on their site. Here are some read more »
Jiri Open Pit Mine
Friday, November 03, 2006
Download the technical paper, the digital data, and the program input parameters for a new publication “An Open-Pit Coalmine Surcharged by Artesian Water Pressure”. This paper is downloadable from read more »
Syncrude Mine Geotechnics and Review Boards
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
There must be a book in the story of the advances and successes of mine geotechnics at the Syncrude property in Alberta. I refer to a 1998 paper recently posted in the InfoMine Library by kind permission of BiTech's Geotechnical News read more »
Crack-induced Hydraulic Conductivity
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
In Words of Wisdom an old paper from BiTech’s Geotechnical News, newly posted into the InfoMine Library, quotes from the writing of Ralph B. Peck are collected. read more »
Slope Stability Radar
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Slope stability radar (SSR) remotely scans rock slopes, continuously measures surface movement, and detects wall movement with sub-millimeter precision. The radar waves penetrate rain, dust, and smoke to give reliable measurements 24 hours a day. read more »
Geoengineer Website
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I have previously written in this site about one of my favorite websites, namely www.geoengineer.org. Here is what I said almost a year ago read more »
Artificial Ground Freezing
Thursday, August 17, 2006
The 2003 Geotechnical News paper Case Study: Thermal Analysis of Artificial Ground Freezing at the McArthur River Uranium Mine describes a case study of the engineering carried out to artificially freeze the underground ore body at the mine prior to read more »