2015 – Blasting impacts on earth embankment dams

Robert Kingsland, Michelle Black, Andrew Russell

Managing the vibration impacts associated with blasting is a challenge for mine planners and operators. In an open cut mining environment production blasting is often an integral part of operations. The management of surface water is a key operational requirement for open cut pits and mine water dams are often a part of the water management infrastructure. Consequently, mine water dams are often subject to blasting impacts.
For the mine operator the foremost questions are, “how close can mine blasting progress towards the dam?” and “what is the maximum vibration that the structure can be safely subjected to?” For the dam safety regulator the key concerns are around potential modes of failure, consequence of failure, the likelihood of failure and the management of risk.
With reference to case studies, this paper will discuss the acceptable blasting limits for earth dams, impacts on various dam elements and failure mode analysis. Failures modes discussed include embankment cracking, slope failure and deformation, foundation cracking and outlet structure cracking. Risk mitigation measures will be presented including design, operation and monitoring controls.
Keywords: blasting impacts, embankment dams, coal mine.

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