Cowan, MS, Campbell, MJ & Hamman, ECF 2007, 'A Geotechnical Toolbox to Maintain Ramp Access and Reduce Rockfall Risk at Sunrise Dam Gold Mine', in Y Potvin (ed.), Proceedings of the 2007 International Symposium on Rock Slope Stability in Open Pit Mining and Civil Engineering
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 499-510.
Mining at Sunrise Dam Gold Mine (SDGM) consists of open cut and underground operations with the open
pit planned for a maximum depth of 460 m. In April 2007, the pit was 360 m deep and as the pit approaches
its ultimate depth, the rockfall hazard and exposure to personnel is increasing. The safety challenge is to
ensure an effective process to design, mine and clean final benches to facilitate the integrity of final walls,
thus reducing the overall rockfall risk. The economic challenge is to maintain a single lane ramp, as loss of
access would “sterilise” substantial parts of the orebody.
A geotechnical toolbox comprising an array of cost effective tools, has been successfully implemented, with
significant and essential support from mine management. These tools are:
• Wall scaling using dedicated equipment with experienced operators.
• Daily inspection and formal signoff for work areas.
• Visual aids for identification of wall control hazards.
• Installation of Geobrugg catch fences and Rocklink drape curtains.
• Blasting practices and design evaluations.
• Use of geotechnical model for secondary blasting input.
The paper discusses each of these tools and how they are used to mitigate the rockfall hazard, particularly
where bench integrity and catch capacity are locally compromised by blast damage or unfavourable geology.