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Stability analysis for steep-slope mines reclaimed using the forestry reclamation approach

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2013, Vol. 334, No. 1, pp. 457-464

Kumar, D.; Silva, J.; Sweigard, R.J.


The Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) recommends that the upper 1.22 m (4 ft) of spoil material on reclaimed surfaces should be left as uncompacted as possible to facilitate efficient tree root growth. However, the main concerns about applying the FRA to steep slopes is that the upper 1.22 m (4 ft) of loose spoil material could cause instability. Successful application of the FRA on the flat and rolling surfaces precipitated this investigation. Details of a field investigation conducted at a steep-slope mine site are available in an earlier publication (Kumar and Sweigard, 2011). A total of 70 survey monuments were driven into the slope in a regular pattern to monitor any type of slope movement. Quarterly surveying of the monuments were done to quantify slope movement, either horizontally or vertically. The methodology developed in this research for field slope movement monitoring was validated using computer model results. Analytical models based on the limit equilibrium method (LEM) and numerical models based on the finite element method (FEM) were developed for slope stability analysis. The LEM analysis was done using the Geo-Slope/W program following the simplified Bishop method. However, numerical models were developed using the PLAXIS computer program following the Mohr’s Coulomb failure criterion and strength reduction technique. The slope stability analysis was performed for two different scenarios: first with the top 1.22 m (4 ft) of loose graded spoil material and second without top loose graded spoil material. Finally, the field investigation results were compared with stability analysis results. Both of these approaches showed that application of the FRA on steep slopes is not causing any significant instability problems, due to 1.22 m (4 ft) loose graded spoil that would not exist otherwise for overly steepened slopes.