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*, Ginting J . KUSUMA
, Irwandy ARIF
Lukman HAKIM

Department of Mining Engineering, Institute Technology Bandung, Bandung 40132, Indonesia
PT Berau Coal
*Corresponding author:

PT Berau Coal is planning to mine the coal at Binungan Site, Pit E-7 up to elevation of -120msl, where the
elevation of the outcrop is about 40 msl. A slope failure has occurred at lowwall in eastern part of the pit. This
failure was triggered by bedding plane which is parallel to the slope face and the occurrence of ground water in
the sandstone layers. It is, therefore, important that a geotechnical study has to be conducted to guarantee the
stability of lowwall. This paper describes the site investigations and slope stability analysis. The analysis result
reveals that the slope is not stable until pit-floor reaches the elevation of -75msl. In order to solve this problem,
simulation by lowering the ground water is carried out. The result shows that the water level should be lowered
using vertical drainholes at RL -60 msl before the pit floor reached.
Keywords: slope failure, lowwall, site investigations, slope stability analysis.

One of the coal open pit run by PT Berau Coal (PTBC) at Binungan Mine Site is E7 Pit. A slope failure has
occurred at eastern block lowwall of the pit on October 2008 (Figure 1). This type of failure was indicated as
plane failure due to bedding plane and the occurrence of ground water in the sandstone layers. Currently, PTBC
is planning to carry out the coal mining until the elevation of Reached Level (RL) -120 msl, which consequently
will create a higher lowwall since the elevation of coal outcrop is about 40 msl. As reported by the mine engineer,
after slope failure, the mine floor heaving occurred, and also seepage occurred at some point at the lower part of
lowwall. Therefore, a geotechnical study is necessary to be conducted in order to guarantee that the lowwall is
The analysis is conducted using the limit equilibrium method which is J anbu method by computer program Slide
ver 3.0 from Rocscience. A simulation by applying the ground water pressure is carried out in order to know the
effect of ground water. The slope stability analysis was conducted in a cross sections as representative of the site

Geotechnical Investigation
Rock stratification at Binungan E7 pit is dominated by sandstone and mudstone. The dip of the bedding planes
vary from 17
. The rock slope lithology was obtained directly by visual observation from site investigation
and also interpreted from exploration borehole given in cross-section as shown in Figure 2.
The lowwall slope is formed after excavating the exposed coal seam E, and almost single slope. It was found that
the rock layer below coal seam E is still stratified rock which consist of the following material (from upper to
lower) : fine Sandstone (called sandstone-1); Mudstone ; coarse Sandstone (called sandstone-2) ; thin coal seam;


(b) (c)
Figure 1: Failured Lowwall Slope

Geological structure mapping was focused on the opened crack and exposed joint on the ramp. The mapping
result shows that the lowwall slope was relatively stable and there was no disturbance from macro structure even
though, relatively large number of micro structures were observed and these tend to be varied. Figure 3 shows
the distribution of joint orientation.

: Seam E : Fine Sandstone : Mudstone : Coarse Sandstone : Seam D

Figure 2:Rock stratification [1]

East West

Figure 3:Distribution of J oint Orientation

The direction of the bedding planes was found to be parallel with the slope orientation, and the joint directions
intersect each other and also intersect with the slope orientation. Nevertheless from site investigation, it can be
identified that the joint acted only as a trigger in slope failure, and the main cause of the failure was due to the
bedding planes. Based on the lithology found in the site, rock samples were then taken for laboratory testing. The
test result is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Rock Parameter [1]
No Lithology (kN/m
) c (kPa)
1 Mudstone 22.4 126 23.5
2 Coal 13 200 35.0
3 Sandstone 24.9 119 22.4

Ground Water Investigation
The sandstone-2 layer is not as compact as the sandstone-1 layer. Because of sandstone-2 position which is
confined by impermeable layers (mudstone and thin coal seam), it has potential as water carrying materials with
high water pressure. The water is believed played an important role in the slope failure. In order to reduce the
water pressure, some vertical drain holes were drilled in the slope face. The 100mm diameter of drain holes were
drilled vertically at the location above RL -30 - -40msl within 50m interval laterally. The depths of the holes
were varied from about 80m. The result of water flow rate measurement showed that there was a decreasing of
the flow rate with time.
Ground water table was being monitored periodically by piezometer. The lowering of ground water caused by
horizontal drain holes, gives positive effect on slope stability. Figure 4 shows the drain hole, and Figure 5 shows
water flow rate monitoring result.

Figure 4:Vertical Drain Hole

Figure 5:Water Flow Rate Monitoring Result

Rain Intensity
Slope stability analysis in lowwall was conducted to determine the FoS of designed slope which considered the
rock stratification at cross section 65 (Figure 6a and 6b), and to find safe level of ground water during the mining
process. The calculation was based on limit equilibrium using J anbu method [2]. The rock parameter input for
this slope stability analysis is obtained from laboratory test (Table 1) and the weak layers parameter is obtained
from back analysis, which are cohesion is 60 kPa and internal friction angle is 13
. Figure 6c and 6d show the
result of analysis, which the sliding plane is simulated as a part of existing bedding plane and the ground water
condition is modeled as distributed pressure applied at the bottom of mudstone layer.

(a) (b)

(c) (d)
Figure 6:Slope Stability Analysis Result for Final Design; (a) Designed lowwall map,
(b) A-A cross section, (c) Analysis result without ground water lowering,
(d) Analysis result with ground water lowering

When the ground water is not drained by vertical drainhole, the water pressure shown in Figure 6(c) and the
result of FoS is 0.787 that means the slope is not stable and mudstone layer will be sliding. Based on ground
water flow rate measurement (Figure 5) which showed that ground water still exist in the sandstone layer even
the vertical drainhole is constructed, so the model of water pressure acting at mudstone layer will be changed
like shown in Figure 6(d) and the FoS is 1.269. It means that the slope is in critical condition because FoS is still
lower than 1.3. Considering this condition and the occurrence of discontinuities (Figure 3), therefore, in order to
assure the mining process could be done until level RL -120 msl, it is suggested to construct additional vertical
drain hole on level RL -60 and -90 msl. These vertical drainhole construction should be immediately conducted
when mining pit floor has reached those each level to maintain tolerable groundwater pressure.

Vertical Drainhole
Vertical Drainhole
RL +40
RL -30
RL +40
RL -30
RL -120

From the above analysis, it is concluded that the targeted pit floor can be reached by applying the vertical drain
hole due to the fact that the ground water is exist. Based on simulation which has been carried out, it is revealed
that to reach mining elevation of RL -120 msl, vertical drain hole must be constructed at RL -30. In order for
assuring the stability condition, additional vertical drain hole should be constructed at RL -60 and -90msl.

The author would like to acknowledge PT. Berau Coal management for the possibility and opportunity to
conduct this study.

[1] PT Lapi ITB, 2008, Lowwall Stability Binungan Site E7 Pit, East Kalimantan Indonesia, Report
submitted to PT Berau Coal.
[2] Hoek,E. and Bray,J .W, 1981, Rock Slope Engineering, Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, London.