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Weak rocks encountered in open pit mines cover a wide variety of materials, with properties ranging between soil and rock. As such, they can provide a significant challenge for the slope designer. For these materials, the mass strength can be the primary control in the design of the pit slopes, although structures can also play an important role. Because of the typically weak nature of the materials, groundwater and surface water can also have a controlling influence on stability.
Guidelines for Open Pit Slope Design in Weak Rocks is a companion to Guidelines for Open Pit Slope Design, which was published in 2009 and dealt primarily with strong rocks. Both books were commissioned under the Large Open Pit (LOP) project, which is sponsored by major mining companies. These books provide summaries of the current state of practice for the design, implementation and assessment of slopes in open pits, with a view to meeting the requirements of safety, as well as the recovery of anticipated ore reserves.
This book, which follows the general cycle of the slope design process for open pits, contains 12 chapters. These chapters were compiled and written by industry experts and contain a large number of case histories. The initial chapters address field data collection, the critical aspects of determining the strength of weak rocks, the role of groundwater in weak rock slope stability and slope design considerations, which can differ somewhat from those applied to strong rock. The subsequent chapters address the principal weak rock types that are encountered in open pit mines, including cemented colluvial sediments, weak sedimentary mudstone rocks, soft coals and chalk, weak limestone, saprolite, soft iron ores and other leached rocks, and hydrothermally altered rocks. A final chapter deals with design implementation aspects, including mine planning, design implementation, monitoring, surface water control and closure of weak rock slopes.
As with the other books in this series, Guidelines for Open Pit Slope Design in Weak Rocks provides guidance to practitioners involved in the design and implementation of open pit slopes, particularly geotechnical engineers, mining engineers, geologists and other personnel working at operating mines.