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GROUND SUPPORT DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE UNDER STRONG

ROCKBURST CONDITIONS
W. F. Bawden, Chair Lassonde Mineral Engineering Division, University of Toronto
S. Jones, Senior Ground Control Engineer, Williams Operating Corporation, Marathon,
Ontario
ABSTRACT
In order to maintain a production rate of 6,000 tonnes per day from underground at the
Williams Operating corporation, two independent mining areas were required which
created a long narrow sill pillar between them. During initial mining of the sill pillar there
were a number of significant ground falls and in March 1999, with no active mining
ongoing in the sill pillar area, a rockburst of magnitude 3.0 Nuttli occurred. Extensive
ground support was designed and installed to withstand another event of similar
magnitude. A mine wide microseismic system was installed to monitor mine induced
seismic behaviour over the entire mine. The area most directly affected by the 1999
rockburst was rehabilitated using a highly ductile support design. Along with the
microseismic instrumentation the areas were instrumented using SMART Cables and
SMART MPBXs. Since that time this area has been impacted by four additional seismic
events of generally similar magnitude. The ground support has performed very well
during these events and the combined microseismic and conventional instrumentation has
permitted full evaluation of degree and aerial extent of damage to the support. This has
permitted a surgical rehabilitation approach which has allowed very good rehabilitation
cost control in this area. The paper discusses the nature of the large seismic events, the
ductile support design applied, the nature and degree of damage to the ground support
and infrastructure and the rehabilitation that was applied.
1. INTRODUCTION
Instrumented SMART cable technology was introduced in 1997 [Bawden et al, 1997] and
is patented in Canada, the USA, Australia, South Africa and Europe. Bawden [2001]
describes the development of this technology which has achieved increasing application
in mining and civil engineering projects. SMART cable bolt instruments have two major
impacts on mining operations:
1. cost savings through optimized support design and through control and
minimization of rehabilitation, and
2. improved safety under both static and dynamic loading conditions.
The impact of instrumented cable bolt support on mine safety can be dramatic. The
importance of this aspect tends to increase exponentially with increasing mining
extraction [and therefore with increasing mine induced stress] and for operations
susceptible to rockburst events [Bawden et al, 2000]. SMART cable technology has been
applied in an extensive program to manage risk in a strongly rockburst prone mining
block at the Williams Operating Corporation. This application is discussed in the
remainder of this paper.

2. THE WILLIAMS MINE


Williams Mine, located in the Hemlo region of Northwestern Ontario, is the largest
underground gold mining operation in North America. Annual production is currently 2.1
million tonnes from underground and 1.1 million tonnes from a surface pit operation,
generating approximately 400,000 ounces of gold. The Mine lies on the south side of the
east-west striking Heron Bay belt of metamorphosed Precambrian rocks. The orebody
lies along the contact between the overlying metasedimentary rocks and the underlying
felsic metavolcanic rocks. The entire package dips to the north at 60 to 700 and the
horizontal ore thickness ranges from 3 to 50 m. .
The uniformity of the orebody, with its steeply dipping orientation, lends itself well to
longhole open stope mining with delayed backfill. The two main mining areas in the B
Zone are Block 3 and Block 4, which are separated by a sill pillar. Block 3 has been in
production since mid 1987 and the mining configuration is a chevron shape. The chevron
is open to the west but is bounded on the east by Newmont Canadas Golden Giant Mine.
Block 4 is immediately below Block 3 and the mining configuration is a half chevron
progressing from east to west [Figure #1]. Initial indications of problems in the sill pillar
began shortly after removal of the first stope under backfill in 1994. The history of major
ground failures in this part of the mine is given by LeBlanc and Murdoch, [2000].

WI LL IA MS
M IN E

W EST

E AS T

B LO CK 3
G O LD E N
G IA N T M IN E
B LO C K 3 - 4 SI L L P ILL AR

B LO CK 4

Figure 1. Longitudinal of B-Zone Looking North.


[After LeBlanc and Murdoch, 2000]

2.1. Mn 3.0 Rockburst, March 1999


On March 29, 1999, a magnitude 3.0 Nuttli rockburst occurred in the Block 3-4 sill pillar.
The event was felt on surface and was picked up by the national seismic network at
several sites in Ontario. Previously, no event larger than an estimated 1.0 Nuttli had been
experienced in the Hemlo camp. The location of the event was a major concern as, until
that time, all ground falls and seismic activity had taken place within the ore zone. In this
case, the main damage zone was located in the footwall drift, centered between 18 x/c
and 26 x/c on the 9415 level, one level below the cemented sill of Block 3 [Figure 1.
Prior to this event there was no microseismic monitoring at the Williams mine. Following
this event a portable 8 channel microseismic system was installed around the Block 4 sill.
This system was used to monitor the sill during rehabilitation and until a mine wide
system could be designed and procured.
2.2 Support Design
Prior to the 3.0 Mn event the footwall haulage drives in the sill area were supported only
with 1.8 m long pattern rebar and screen [back and walls]. Massive failure on the 9415
level extended to depths of 4 5 m into the back, well above the primary support.
Damage on the 9450 level occurred largely as shake down of poorly supported wall
material, although locally strong buckling and crushing failure also occurred in the
corners (Bawden et al, 2000). The conclusion that this was a fault slip event implied that
additional events of equal or possibly larger magnitude could occur in future, especially
when active mining was begun in the sill pillar area. A management decision was taken
to abandon the severely damaged 9415 level and to re-establish access to this area in the
hangingwall. The remaining footwall drives in the sill area however were to be
rehabilitated. A support strategy that would protect personnel and equipment from future
large magnitude seismic events in this area had to be devised.
It was estimated, based on indirect evidence, that the epicenter of the 3.0 Mn event of
March 1999 was located in the footwall in relatively close proximity to the footwall
haulage drives. Subsequent microseismic monitoring and geomechanical mapping
suggest that the causative feature is located 40 m south of the footwall haulage drives.
The March 29th Mn 3.0 seismic event resulted in damage to footwall haulage drives
varying from minor [e.g. 9390, 9475 & 9500 levels], to moderate [9450 level] and severe
[9415 level] [Bawden et al, 2000]. Support systems must possess certain key
characteristics in order to function effectively under rockburst conditions (Canadian
Rockburst Research handbook, [1995]). These characteristics include: initial stiffness,
load capacity, displacement capacity, and energy absorption capacity (Figure #2). The
aerial coverage must be sufficient to prevent unraveling and the holding elements must be
long enough to penetrate into stable ground.
Two approaches were used to estimate the total load, [static + dynamic], that ground
support might be subject to from future rockburst events. The approaches used were:
(1) For rockburst mechanisms of bulking causing ejection and ejection for
moderate and major damage severity, support system load capacity between 10 &

15 tonnes/m2 and displacement capacity of 200 to > 300 mm is suggested


(Canadian Rockburst Research handbook (Table 4.6, V. 2, Ch. 4, Pg. 46))
(2) Using a back analysis of the falls of ground on the 9415 level induced by the 3.0
Mn event of March 1999, and assuming, in the worst case, a static load increment
of 100% due to the dynamic strain pulse from a large seismic event results in an
estimated support requirement of 30 tonnes/m2.
The adopted design was based on the use of weldmesh reinforced shotcrete as the
retaining element, with twin strand bulge cables as the anchoring/holding element.
While it has been demonstrated that the bulge cables will develop the required resisting
forces, this is a stiff support and will not accommodate very large deformations expected
in close proximity to a 3.0 Mn event [Figure 2c]. Block 4 footwall haulage drive support
in the sill area therefore had to be designed not only for high load capacity, but also
significant ductility [i.e. deformation capacity].
Fully bulged cable bolt support is not considered suitable from a ductility standpoint for
such applications. The ability of a short section of bulge cable to mobilize the full
capacity of the support remains important. To provide ductility bulge cable was restricted
to an anchor section, with the remainder of the cable left as plain strand. The plain
strand section can be debonded to allow it to stretch, while the bulged anchor section
would displace minimally. If sufficient displacement of the rockmass occurs the cable
would be expected to rupture at the beginning of the bulge section. The debonded plain
strand cable should allow a maximum of 10 mm of stretch/m plain cable length at yield,
[ 35 mm/m at rupture], thus providing ductility to the support system.
For the assumed failure conditions the weldmesh reinforced shotcrete provides significant
direct load capacity. The shotcrete was tied back using deep seated [7 meter] high
capacity twin strand bulge cable anchors [ultimate capacity 50 tonnes, length 2 meters]
by 5 meters of plain twin strand cables. The plain strand cable sections then provide 50
mm of ductility prior to yield. This amount of ductility however is at the lower end of the
range of ductility potentially required under relatively near field loading from a 3.0 Mn
event. Figure # 2 [c] indicates that at a distance of ~ 40 m from a 3.0 Mn event
anticipated wall displacements are near the border between high [> 30 mm] and very
high [> 300 mm]. In order to provide additional high capacity, high ductility support,
rings of connectible Super Swellex bolts were interspersed between the rings of debonded
cables through the areas of highest seismic risk.

Figure # 2: Criteria for the design of support in bursting ground: (a) Static strength factor
(b) Energy capacity (c) Wall displacements [After Rockburst Research Program
handbook, 1995]
2.3 Instrumentation Program
While the capacity and ductility of the support system was believed adequate at the time
of installation, it was recognized that due to the high stress nature of the sill area
combined with continued stress transfer from surrounding active mining areas the support
system capacity could gradually be consumed, adversely impacting the factor of safety
over time. A comprehensive monitoring program was established in order to evaluate
when and if additional support would be required in order to maintain an adequate safety
standard in this high risk area. The monitoring system consisted of three components:
(i) SMART cables were installed as part of the cable design in each intersection on the
9450, 9390 and parts of the 9370 and 9415 levels. Occasional SMART MPBX
instruments were installed to depths exceeding the depth of the cable support on each
level to check for possible deformations beyond the maximum depth of ground support
installed.
(ii) A temporary 8 channel portable microseismic system was installed in the Block 4 sill
area in the summer of 1999.This was replaced with a 64 channel mine wide microseismic
monitoring system in the fall of 2000. This system has its highest event resolution in the
sill area.
(iii) Regular visual inspections of ground conditions are conducted through the sill area.
3. SEISMIC ACTIVITY IN THE SILL SUBSEQUENT TO MARCH 1999, 3.0 Mn
EVENT

Six large seismic events have occurred in the Block 4 sill area since the March 1999, 3.0
Mn event. No direct mining was being conducted in the sill during this time period. The
date and magnitude of all large seismic events that have affected the sill to date are listed
in Table #1.
Table 1: Seismic Events in Block 4 Sill
DATE
March 29, 1999
December 17, 1999
January 8, 2000
July 28, 2000
April 22, 2001
June 28, 2001

EVENT SIZE [NUTTLI MAGNITUDE]


3.0
2.6
1.6 and 1.7
2.8
2.3
3.1

Subsequent to the March 1999 event the sill area has been monitored for mine induced
seismicity and with instrumented SMART cables and MPBXs. The performance of the
ground support system under the dynamic loading conditions resulting from the seismic
events listed in Table # 2 are described below.
3.1 December 17, 1999, 2.6 Mn and January 8, 2000, 1.6 & 1.7 Mn Events
Figure # 3 shows a longitudinal section of the sill showing all mine induced seismic
events for the period of December 17 19, 1999. The strong clustering of events in the
east half of the sill around the 9415 level [the level that suffered the most intense damage
from the March 29, 1999, 3.0 Mn event and which was ultimately abandoned] is evident.
The 9450 level, located 25 meters above this, had been well instrumented with SMART
cable bolts in each cross cut intersection. This event resulted in sharp load increase from
the # 19 through the # 24 intersections with cable loads increasing to as much as as 70%
of yield [Bawden et al, 2000]. None of the instrumented SMART cables indicated any
load increase due to the January 8, 2000, seismic events. Additionally there was no
visible damage to the fresh shotcrete support due to any of these events.

Figure #3: Block 3 4 sill seismic events, December 17 19, 1999


3.2 July 28, 2000, Mn 2.8 Event
Figure # 4 shows the total seismic activity for 48 hours following the 2.8 Mn event of
July 28, 2001. Note that the concentration of mine induced seismicity has shifted to the
west and down relative to the activity around the December, 1999, event [Figure # 3].
Figures # 5 (a) & (b) show seismic activity on the 9415 and 9390 levels respectively for
the same period. While the seismic activity on the 9415 level remains concentrated along
the footwall drive, on 9390 a significant seismic cluster also occurs in the ore around the
# 23 stope. Support on the 9450 level was not affected by this seismic event. Figure # 6
shows the load time history for a SMART cable located in the # 18 cross cut
intersection on the 9415 level. The instrument was installed on May 24th, 2000, and
immediately began to pick up deep seated load [> 5 m into the back]. With the 2.8 Mn
event on July 28th, the cable load in this area increased dramatically from about 7.5
tonnes to about 23 tonnes [> 50 % yield for twin strand] at a depth of 5 6 meters. Figure
# 7 shows the same data for a SMART cable instrument in the # 17 cross cut intersection.
While the trend is similar, the load increase is much less [~ 10 tonnes at 5 6 m depth].
Instrumentation on the 9415 level east of the # 17 cross cut and on the 9390 level showed
no effect form the July 28th, 2000, event.

Figure # 4: Block 3 4 sill 48 hour seismicity following July 28, 2000 Mn 2.8
rockburst

Figure # 5: 48 hour seismicity following July 28, 2000, Mn 2.8 rockburst for a 10m
interval on the 9415 (a) and 9390 (b) levels.
Load vs Date/Time - 18 Intersection - 9415 Level
30

25

20

Load

15

July 28,
2000, Mn
2.8 Event

10

0
23-May-00

31-Aug-00

9-Dec-00

19-Mar-01

27-Jun-01

5-Oct-01

13-Jan-02

-5
Date/Time
Node 1 - Node 2

Node 2 - Node 3

Node 3 - Node 4

Node 4 - Node 5

Node 5 - Node 6

Node 6 - Head

Figure # 6: 9415 level # 18 intersection SMART cable load time data

Load vs Date/Time - 17 Intersection - 9415 Level


12

10

July 28,
2000, 2.8
Mn event

Load

0
23-May-00

31-Aug-00

9-Dec-00

19-Mar-01

27-Jun-01

5-Oct-01

13-Jan-02

-2
Date/Time
Node 1 - Node 2

Node 2 - Node 3

Node 3 - Node 4

Node 4 - Node 5

Node 5 - Node 6

Node 6 - Head

Figure # 7: 9415 level # 17 intersection SMART cable load time data


3.3 April 22nd, 2001, 2.2. Mn event
A raise bore was pulled to by-pass the # 3 ore pass through the Block 4 sill. The raise
began to fail immediately upon completion and was filled. On April 22nd a 2.2 Mn event
occurred in the footwall of the ore pass on the 9390 level. Seismic activity was
concentrated west of the # 21 stope and, although the number of events was small,
damage was sustained to the shotcrete in part of the south wall of the 9390 footwall
haulage drive. SMART cables from the # 23 through the # 25 intersections showed
gradually increasing loads followed by an immediate step function response to the
event, with cable strain increasing to the west [from # 23 to # 25]. In all cases cable loads
were very deep seated [> 5 meters]. Instrumentation on the 9415 level indicated no effect
due to this event [Figures 6 & 7]. Seismic activity was again recorded in the abandoned
portion of the 9415 level, suggesting that additional caving may have occurred in this
area.
3.4 June 28, 2001, 3.1 Mn seismic event
The local seismic system indicated a steady increase in activity in the sill pillar during the
latter half of June, 2001. On June 27th the decision was taken to close off the 9390 and
9415 levels in this area until microseismic activity stabilized or returned to normal
background levels. On June 28 a 3.1 Mn event occurred in the west portion of the Block
4 sill. Figure # 8 shows events from June 28 30 on a longitudinal section. Figure # 9
shows event locations using 10 m windows around transverse sections through the #20
and 26 stopes. Note that at the east side of the sill microseismic activity is restricted to the
footwall, while further west activity occurs in both the footwall and the ore. MPBX and
SMART cable readings on 9390 and 9415 east and west had not changed during June.
Instrument readings, after shock events and visual damage suggested an epicenter along a
foliation shear located about 40 m into the footwall between the 9390 and 9415 levels
around the # 23-24 stope. The event triggered a 300 tonne fall of ground on the 9415
level at the 19 X-cut, an area previously barricaded off at the edge of the March 1999, 3.0

Mn event failure zone [Figure # 5]. The major cable bolt load increase occurred at the
#24 X-cut-footwall drive intersection where the twin strand cables were taken to rupture
at a depth of 2 3 m into the back [Figure # 10]. Cable loads decreased to the east and
west of this area. Figure # 11 shows the response of the SMART cable in the # 27
intersection, immediately adjacent to the # 28 30 cave area. Load on cables in this area
is minimal and the cables have not responded directly to any of the large seismic events
since their installation in January 2000. Local time dependent damage to the shotcrete
support on the 9390 level, composed of spall and cracking, was documented over the
following 1 6 days primarily between the # 23 and # 25 intersections.

Figure # 8: Block 3 4 sill 48 hour seismicity following June 28, 2001, 3.1 Mn rockburst

Figure # 9: Sesimic event locations at (a) stope # 20 and (b) stope # 26


Displacement vs Date/Time - 24x/c Intersection - 9390 Level
60

LARGE STRAIN ON CABLE


BETWEEN 2 3 M INTO
BACK JUNE 28, 3.1 Mn
EVENT

50

Displacement

40

30

20

10

0
12-Jan-00

21-Apr-00

30-Jul-00

7-Nov-00

15-Feb-01

26-May-01

3-Sep-01

12-Dec-01

-10
Date/Time
Node 1 - Toe

Node 2 - Toe

Node 3 - Toe

Node 4 - Toe

Node 5 - Toe

Node 6 - Toe

Figure # 10: 9390 level SMART cable displacement time data for the # 24 X-cut
intersection

Displacement vs Date/Time - 27x/c Intersection - 9390 Level


7

Displacement

0
12-Jan-00

21-Apr-00

30-Jul-00

7-Nov-00

15-Feb-01

26-May-01

3-Sep-01

12-Dec-01

-1
Date/Time
Node 1 - Toe

Node 2 - Toe

Node 3 - Toe

Node 4 - Toe

Node 5 - Toe

Node 6 - Toe

Figure # 11: 9390 level SMART cable displacement time data - # 27 intersection
4. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
Since March 1999 the Block 3 4 sill pillar at the Williams Operating Corporation has
experienced a number of large rockburst events ranging in magnitude from about 1.6 to >
3.0 Mn. These events are believed to be occurring as fault slip events along a foliation
shear structure located 40 m south of the footwall haulage development.
With the first Mn 3.0 event of March, 1999, damage occurred over a 150 m x 150 m area
supported using normal primary support. Near the assumed event epicenter severe
damage occurred resulting in abandonment of a 140 m long section of haulage drive. A
high capacity/high ductility support system was subsequently designed and implemented
throughout those portions of the sill assessed to be at high seismic risk. This support
system has survived subsequent large seismic events in the sill while incurring minimal
visible damage to the sill development. Instrumented SMART cable bolts have responded
in direct proportion to the magnitude of the seismic events:
1.6 1.7 Mn no response
2.2 Mn measured but minimal load change no immediate rehabilitation
required
> 3.0 Mn direct load increase of up to 20 tonnes/twin strand installation cables
replaced throughout loaded area to re-establish required factor of safety.
The combined seismic and SMART instrument program has permitted immediate
assessment of the degree and extent of damage resulting from more recent seismic events.
The instrumentation has allowed definition of the exact location and amount of support

capacity consumed in each seismic event. This has then permitted a surgical
rehabilitation approach. The result has been:
no production interruptions,
minimized rehabilitation cost, and
maintenance of desired safety factor throughout the sill area.
Since 1999 seismic activity in the sill has shifted from east to west and down from the
9415 to the 9390 level. Figure 9 shows seismic activity restricted to the footwall area in
the east sill but occurring throughout the footwall and the ore in the west sill. Damage
from the more recent events has also shifted west and down. This data suggests that the
east sill has become aseismic and may have yielded. SMART cable data from the # 27
intersection immediately adjacent to the # 28-30 cave area indicates that this area has not
responded to any of the seismic events in the sill, suggesting that this area may have
yielded at the time of the # 28 30 cave. The combined data suggests that the present
area of highest seismic risk in the sill is located between the # 23 and the # 26
intersections on the 9390 level.
The data shows strong time dependence in the seismic, damage and support load
behaviour in the sill. After the larger seismic events [>2.8 Mn] seismicity is generally
observed to take 8 weeks to return to background levels. Shotcrete damage following
the latest 3.1 Mn event occurred over a 1 6 day period. Cable bolt loads generally show
an immediate response to the larger seismic events. In some cases cable loads have
stabilized immediately following such events and in others they have continued to
gradually increase.
5. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors wish to thank the Williams Operating Corporation for permission to publish
this data
6. REFERENCES
Bawden, W. F., Lausch, P., and Dennison, S. 2000. Lessons in control of mine costs from
instrumented cable bolt support studies. In Proceedings, 4th North American Rock
Mechanics Society Symposium. Seattle, U.S.A. A.A. Balkema. Pp 633-641
De Graff, P., Hyett, A. J., Bawden, W. F. and Yao, M. 2000. Investigations into the
distribution of load along long cable bolts a field trial using SMART technology, an
aid to successful ground support design. In Proceedings of the 9th Congress of the
International Society of Rock Mechanics. A. A. Balkema. Pp 1273-1277
Gauthier, P. 2000. Cable bolt optimization at Mine Bousquet. In Proceedings 15th Ground
Control Colloque. Association Miniere du Quebec

LeBlanc, B and Murdoch , G. 2000. Costs associated with sill pillar mining at Williams
Mine. In proceedings, Annual General Meeting, Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy
and Petroleum. Toronto, Canada
Nelson D. A., Hyett, A. J. and Dennison, S. 2000. Cable performance in the 1854E
Hangingwall at Campbell Mine. In Proceedings Annual General Meeting, Canadian
Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. CD-ROM