Geotechnical Hazard Awareness

Geotechnical Hazard Awareness for Mine Workers & Supervisors

Strata failure is a principal hazard in surface mining including open cut coal mines. Four videos were produced by UNSW Sydney, ACARP and Mark Coombe Productions to assist with the education of mine operators, mine supervisors and mine planning engineers to provide an overview of: (i) what to look for so the likelihood and impact of slope failure can be reduced; and (ii) describe the function of a geotechnical engineer within the technical services department. These new videos follow on the production of Unearthing Black Gold which was developed by the Australian Centre of Geomechanics in 2004. The new videos were developed to capture the technological advancements over the last 15 years and include a new technical section for mine planning.

Full credit and congratulations to Dr Alison McQuillan, Professor Ismet Canbulat and Mr Mark Coombe for developing and sharing these.

Video 1: Geotech Hazard Awareness for Mine Operators

The contents of video 1 describe the setup of an open cut mine environment. Flyovers of an active mining operation delineate key aspects of an open cut mine such as geometry, mine progression and typical equipment used to mine coal and overburden in a surface environment. This detail provides an excellent overview of a mine setup for personnel new to industry and not necessarily familiar with specific terminology to describe different operating areas of the pit.

Commonly used terms to describe geological features is also provided in the overview section.

Warning signs of slope instability are then displayed. Warning signs are divided into geological, hydrogeological and mining conditions. A verbal description is provided for each warning sign, and then accompanied by either video or still footage so visuals of warning signs are also provided.

Video 1 is approximately 14 minutes in duration.

Video 2: Geotech Hazard Awareness for Mine Supervisors

Video 2 is an extension of video 1, with new sections added describing Types of Failures and Typical Controls.

Type of failures are described by slope category, i.e. failure in excavated or dumped slope. Types of failures described include planar, wedge, toppling and composite failures in excavated slopes. Active-passive wedge failures in dumped slopes. And circular and isolated rock falls in both excavated and dumped slopes.

Typical controls are then listed to provide guidance on how to effectively manage a geotechnical hazard. Controls are described using the hierarchy system of elimination, engineering, separation and administration.

Slope monitoring techniques are also discussed in detail.

Video 2 also describes typical processes and systems open cut mines have in place to identify and control geotechnical risk. These include descriptions of Standard Work Procedures, Standard Operating Procedures, Principal Hazard Management Plans and Trigger Action Response Plans that outline the minimum actions and responses for normal and elevated risk states relating to geotechnical hazards.

Video 2 is approximately 21 minutes in duration.

Video 3: Types of Failures and Typical Controls

Video 3 is made of the sections describing Types of Failures and Typical Controls that are added included in Video 2. These can be viewed as a standalone video, which is approximately 8 minutes in duration.

Video 4: Geotech Hazard Awareness for Mine Planning

Video 4 focuses on the function of a geotechnical engineer within the Mine Planning (or Technical Services) Department.

Legislation requires slope designs to meet appropriate standards to protect the safety of personnel working in and around coal mine slopes. On an open cut mine, geotechnical engineers are responsible for ensuring mine designs meet industry standards.

This video describes how a geotechnical engineer applies and analyses survey, geology, groundwater and mine designs into the geotechnical process. And further details what geological, structural, hydrogeological, geomechanical and spatial data is required to provide exploration geologists a sound understanding of why certain data is being requested and what detail is required when this data is first being collected in the field.

An overview of the four main types of geotechnical assessment completed by a geotechnical engineer is also given. These include empirical, kinematic, analytical (limit equilibrium) and numerical analysis.

Video 4 describes how important it is for the geotechnical engineer to receive the technical information they require in a timely manner to ensure there is adequate time to review, change or optimise slope designs to comply with safety, economic and equipment constraints.

Video 4 is approximately 16 minutes in duration.

Four new videos are presented to the coal mining industry as a practical resource to increase the awareness of geotechnical hazards in an open cut coal mining environment.

The new videos and their content have different target audiences. These include videos 1, 2 and 3 which have primarily produced for mine operators and supervisors to identify and manage geotechnical risk. Video 4 has been produced primarily for technical personnel in Mine Planning Departments to describe the function of a geotechnical engineer and geotechnical data requirements in the mine design process. And all four videos are suitable for universities as teaching material to encourage undergraduate engineering students to pursue a career in mining.

The video format provides industry a consistent training experience. It is further cost-effective and flexible in that videos can be paused, rewound or replayed on demand.

Where serious injury, fatalities and extensive production delays can result from unplanned slope failure and/or rockfall events, hazard awareness training can substantially reduce the likelihood and consequence of slope failure.

A great safety initiative – congratulations to Dr Alison McQuillan, Professor Ismet Canbulat and Mr Mark Coombe!

View on Linkedin

Mining & Civil Construction