Application of the 3D Limit Equilibrium Method in Tailings Dam Breach Analysis

Application of the 3D Limit Equilibrium Method in Tailings Dam Breach Analysis

Authors: Julie Castellanos, Salina Yong, Violeta Martin
Conference: Tailings and Mine Waste 2022
Date: November 6-9, 2022


This paper presents a case study of a tailings storage facility undergoing closure activities, where three-dimensional limit equilibrium analysis (3D LEA) was used to estimate the breach geometry, breach location, and potential outflow volumes. Data from seismic cone penetration and laboratory testing were used to evaluate the behavior (flowability) and strength of the in-situ tailings. Key factors such as the pre-mine topography, dam geometry, dam materials, tailings properties, and pore pressure conditions were considered in the 3D LEA. The case study highlights the importance of integrating soil mechanics concepts with dam breach analysis methodologies to provide a more meaningful approach for evaluating the potential runout impacts of a slump-type failure mode. The proposed approach can be used to facilitate risk assessments and inform emergency preparedness and response planning.


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