SME Annual Meeting Feb. 28-Mar.

1, Salt Lake City, Utah

Preprint 00-68

PIT SLOPE DESIGN CHALLENGES IN RESIDUAL SOILS AND WEATHERED ROCK: BACKGROUND AND A CASE STUDY H W. Newcomen and B. T. Burton BGC Engrg Inc. Vancouver, BC, Canada J. Geyer Gold Reserve Corp Spoken, WA, USA ABSTRACT For open pits developed in tropical climates the upper portions of the pit walls are often located in residual soils and weathered rock. Due to the presence of relict structures, and the relatively low strength of the residual soils and weathered rock, design slope angles in these materials have to be developed by blending the results of kinematic assessments of geologic structures with rock mass stability analyses and traditional soil mechanics. Background information on the engineering considerations of residual soils are discussed, and the results of geotechnical assessments for proposed pit design of the Brisas del Cuyuni Project, located in southeastern Venezuela, are presented. RESIDUAL SOILS Introduction Excavations in tropical climates often encounter residual soils and weathered rock. A residual soil can be described as a soil-like material derived from the weathering and decomposition of rock which has not been transported from its original location (Blight, 1997). This general definition is a broad term that includes saprolites, mature soils and laterites. The term residual soil is sometimes used in more specific terms to describe mature soil alone. Saprolites are materials that have soil-like strength or consistency, but retain recognizable relicts of the structure and fabric of the parent rock (Blight, 1997). As an example, a saprolite derived from a lava may contain flow bands, amygdules, and joints. Relict structures often constitute planes of weakness and zones of higher permeability within a soil mass. Mature soil is that part of the soil profile which has undergone physical and chemical weathering to the extent that no evidence of the parent rock’s fabric or structures remain. Laterites are highly altered residual soils that have had the silica leached out and have some degree of cementation by sesquioxides (Blight, 1997), giving these soils a granular or nodular appearance. Laterites are typically rich in hematite and boehmite and their high iron content gives them a deep reddish color. The term laterite, however, is used very loosely and is sometimes applied to soils with little influence from sesquioxides. Laterization may occur in ancient transported soils as well as residual soils. Due to the nature of their formation, laterites tend to occur near the surface and extend to limited depths. Laterites are often excellent construction materials and may be a source of aggregate. The progression with chemical weathering of a soil from saprolite to mature soil, to laterite will only occur in a favorable chemical environment and is described in greater detail below. Distribution Residual soils can be found throughout the world, but primarily in the tropics, as shown in Figure 1. Broad classes of residual soils can be seen to extend beyond the tropics where favourable circumstances permit. Conversely, numerous areas exist in the tropics where residual soils are overlain by more recent alluvial and aeolian deposits. Structure, Fabric and Discontinuities The following definitions are proposed for use (Fookes, 1997) when discussing the characteristics and properties of residual soils: 1
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and has been observed to affect field instruments such as 2 nuclear densometers. hydrated iron and aluminum oxides. and microstructure or fabric. feldspar minerals (aluminosilicates) weather initially to kaolinite. The mineralogy of tropical soils has engineering significance in the aggregation and cementation of soils (Burton.SME Annual Meeting Feb. and voids can have a significant influence on the behavior of the soil mass. 28-Mar. faults. veins. Mineralogy The mineralogical composition of residual soils is dependent on the composition of the parent rock and the climatic conditions. Utah • • Structure – the fabric. clay mineralogy varies in relation to the distance from the equator. material or soil-rock mass. Other minerals which are more resistant to weathering. such as quartz (SiO4) and mica (Kal3Si3O10(OH)2 . often as individual sand grains in a clayey matrix. such as goethite (Fe2O3•H2O) and gibbsite (Al2O3•3H2O ). mass or unit. in a general sense. 1982). fissures. particularly partially remolded soils such as compacted fills. the behavior of the in-situ soil mass is frequently more influenced by macroscopic features. Figure 2 shows that. 1. 1997). also referred to as sesquioxides. The structure of tropical residual soils includes macroscopic features such as relict discontinuities. In the tropics. The structural orientation of macroscopic features such as schistosity. based on F.muscovite) may persist. Fabric – the spatial arrangement of component particles.O. texture and discontinuity patterns making up the soil-rock material.A. • Discontinuities – the nature and distribution of surfaces separating elements of fabric. World Soil Map (after Fookes. Salt Lake City. Weathering Profile The engineering properties of a soil will vary with depth even if it has developed from a uniform parent Copyright © 2000 by SME . The mineralogy can have a significant affect on index properties such as moisture content. 1998). Further chemical action may cement these materials and produce lateritic gravels. Swelling or collapsing soils can have a significant effect on slope stability. With further weathering the kaolinite content may decrease and the sesquioxides progressively alter to hematite (Fe2O3) and boehmite (Al2O3•H2O) (Mitchell and Sitar. joints. Figure 1. Although microstructure is important to understanding the engineering behavior of soils. Simplified world distribution of the principal types of residual soils.

and Sueoka. Near the surface. the moisture content fluctuates less with the seasons. depending on their depth of occurrence and geologic age. 1988. 1979. Figure 4 shows how soil properties tend to vary with depth due to the effects of weathering. granodiorites. 1. and soil particles and solutes are less likely to be transported. tend to have gradational transitions over many tens of meters. some general trends exist for residual soils. and less organic matter is present. 1979) indicates that for those climatic conditions the three main types of bedrock Copyright © 2000 by SME . For exam3 Figure 3. Many classifications have been proposed. 1982). at greater depth the groundwater movement is often slower. however. such as granites. seasonal wetting and drying.SME Annual Meeting Feb. Utah material. An example of a typical weathering profiles for metamorphic and igneous rocks are shown in Figure 3. migmatitic gneisses. Salt Lake City. see Uehara. such as schists and phyllites. Also. More fissile rocks. However. and some metavolcanics. 1977. topography. ple. The effect of climate on frequency of clay mineral occurrence with climate zones represented in a simplified manner as distance from the equator (from Millot. Weathering classification system proposed by Deere and Patton (1971) with typical weathering profiles for metamorphic and intrusive igneous rocks (after Deere and Patton. A knowledge of typical weathering profiles for different parent rocks can help the slope designer predict how geomechanic properties will vary with depth. Crystalline rocks. allowing a rational approach to be taken to dividing up slopes for design. tend to have a fairly sharp boundary. Changes occurring with depth in a weathering profile (adapted from Tuncer and Lohnes. 1997). and bioturbation. it is out of the scope of this paper to compare them. and structure. humid Malaysian peninsular has quite different properties from weathered granite from cooler. Grain Size: Experience obtained in residual soils from Brazil (Mori. weathered granite from the warm. Welljointed igneous rocks will have an increasing abundance of corestones with depth. soil layers are affected by humus. 1971). 1997). Figure 4. 28-Mar. Figure 2. Selected Residual Soil Properties It is difficult to relate the properties of a residual soil directly to the parent rock because of the complex superposition of effects from climate. The transition from saprolite to fresh rock may be sudden or may occur over tens of meters. after Blight. This figure also shows a classification system for weathering grades. geologic age. At greater depth. semi-arid South Africa (Blight.

CO. In February 1998. The Brisas property is located in the KM 88 mining district. Guyana and French Guyana. Plasticity Index Results for Various Residual Soil Parent Rock Types (after Blight. the local variability in plasticity for residual soils is much greater than the variability in shear strength. The property. 1997). 1997). was acquired by Gold Reserve Corporation (GRC) in 1992. however. Suriname. often they are not readily apparent in drill core due to smearing from the drilling process. copper and molybdenum contained below the alluvial. Larger scale pump testing can be performed to overcome these difficulties. The relationships developed for temperate soils are considered appropriate as a first approximation of shear strength. Most of the shield is covered in dense rainforest. they should be used with caution. The area is underlain by the Precambrian Guyana shield which extends into Brazil. fresh outcrops often give way to troughs of weathering 15 to 20 m deep over horizontal distances of 100 to 200m. In the authors’ experience. In addition. a detailed pre-feasibility study was completed by Jacobs Engineering of Denver. at the Brisas property and elsewhere. The “property” refers to the Brisas alluvial gold concession and the Brisas hard rock concession for the gold. the KM 88 Mining District was one of the richest gold-producing areas in the world.BRISAS DEL CUYUNI PROJECT Regional Setting and Project History Over 100 years ago. and mining has traditionally been carried out in the highly weathered saprolitic bedrock. Salt Lake City. This . Relict structures can be difficult to characterize. Figure 5. The corresponding rock types and grain sizes of the residual soil are: • • • basalt – clayey gneiss – silty (often micaceous) granite – (sandy) often requires that the faces be washed or exposed to rainfall to enhance the visibility of the structures. a supplemental study was completed in August 1998 on potential improvements to the milling using the Cominco CESL group milling 4 Copyright © 2000 by SME The resultant grain sizes are generally a function of the mineralogy of the various parent rock types. Testing the hydraulic conductivity of saprolite must take into account scale effects. because what appears to be rock from a distance may break down to clay and silt under relatively light pressures. through a wholly owned Venezuelan subsidiary. Site Characterization Investigating the properties of a saprolite differs from investigations of temperate soils in three general ways: • • • relict structures must be characterized relict structures must be accounted for in permeability testing weathering distributions should be mapped. Slope instability has occurred where interpreted bedrock was in fact a very large boulder floating in a weathered rock matrix. however. Visual mapping is not a reliable method. 28-Mar. CASE HISTORY. Utah commonly found consistently weather to different grain sizes.SME Annual Meeting Feb. (Figure 6) in Venezuela’s Bolivar State. The success of open borehole testing can be affected by smearing of the sidewalls. Considerable mineral wealth has also been discovered more recently in the underlying hard rock. and packer testing often has limited success due the difficulties associated with obtaining a proper seal for the packers. The in-situ permeability is often controlled by relict joints and thus laboratory testing can underestimate the conductivity by orders of magnitude. Mapping of trench and test pit walls is generally more successful but often these are also obscured by smeared surfaces resulting from the excavation process. the results obtained will incur significant additional costs. Relationships between the index properties of plastic limit and liquid limit of a soil and shear strength are well accepted for temperate soils. 1. Plasticity: A correlation between plasticity index and parent rock type is shown in Figure 5. This area is located approximately 375km south of Ciudad Guyana (locally known as Puerto Ordaz) near the village of Las Claritas. and quite sudden depth increases of 30 to 50m (Fookes. In some areas. Mapping the base of weathering requires careful consideration.

At Brisas. sulfide-stable saprolite. with an orange or reddish-brown color. The base of the oxidized saprolite is denoted in the drillhole logs by the marker “BOS” (Figure 7). Slope stability assessments for a deeper and larger open pit are being carried out on an ongoing basis by BGC Engineering of Vancouver. The oxidized saprolites generally overly a greenish-grey. 1999). They consist of: • • • • saprolite soils a mixed zone weathered rock fresh rock The saprolites are formed by the complete weathering of bedrock. The thickness of this zone is variable. ranging from 5m to greater than 30m. The marker “BAS” is assigned to the base of the saprolite. This zone has layers of saprolite mixed with layers of highly weathered rock. Utah process. the saprolites generally consist of silt-size particles. and are distinguished by the absence of any significant rock content. Location Map Engineering Geology Figure 7. The marker “BZM” has been assigned to the base of the mixed zone. Figure 6. optimizing cutoff grades. The depth to the BAS marker is variable across the site. Salt Lake City. and is carrying out additional metallurgical testing and tailings characterization.SME Annual Meeting Feb. BC (Newcomen. Four horizons have been identified at the property by GRC geologists. to facilitate on-site treatment of copper concentrates. Relict structures. et al. 1997. 1. such as joints and bedding planes are common in the saprolite. The oxidized saprolite often contains zones of white. The mixed zone is a gradational horizon between the overlying saprolite and the underlying bedrock. but has been logged to depths of up to 100m. 28-Mar. to a depth of between 15 and 20m. Typical Section Through the Proposed Pit 5 Copyright © 2000 by SME . GRC continues to conduct work on updating the mineable reserves. The top of the saprolite is generally oxidized. chalky low-plasticity kaolin.

however. Five test pits were excavated around the property to depths of about 5m during the geotechnical investigations.000 m of drilling. Core Logging: GRC’s exploration program includes diamond drilling using single-tube diamond coring techniques. tuffs and volcanics. in the weathered and fresh rock. All of the exposures in the outcrops consist of saprolite or heavily weathered rock. as they were determined using packer tests which are often found to be unreliable in ground conditions such as those found at Brisas. tuffs and volcanic sediments which have been intruded by dykes and stocks of diorite. making identification and mapping of geologic structures a challenge. The drill holes are typically HQ size initially. Conductivities in the saprolite are estimated to be approximately three orders of magnitude lower. Two vertical drill holes were drilled specifically for the geotechnical program. as described above. Several small open pits excavated by previous mining activities are located throughout the property. The undrained strength of the soil was measured in the test pit walls using a Geonor hand vane. for a total of over 165. 1996). lower water tables during the dry season have allowed structural mapping of the pits to be carried out on a limited basis. and gabbro. The dominant structural features throughout the site are bedding and foliation. with -4 -5 calculated transmissivities between 3x10 and 2x10 2 m /s (Hydro-Triad. Rust staining on the fractures and joints suggests that groundwater flow occurs predominately within this horizon. Disturbed saprolite samples were collected at regular intervals in the test pits. Recharge is derived from gravity leakage out of the overlying saprolite and regional sources. These values fall below the threshold of what would be considered productive for water well installations. The pits are often filled with water. 1. quartz porphyry. Salt Lake City. Additional detailed logging of over 3. Engineering logging has typically been carried out by GRC personnel before the drill core is split. in an area where the bedding dip was expected to be critical to the pit wall design. 28-Mar. One undisturbed block sample of saprolite was collected from the test pits. To date. Hydrogeology The phreatic surface at the project site fluctuates seasonally between 2 to 5 m below the ground surface.500 m of core from eleven selected drillholes was undertaken by BGC to determine the properties of the saprolite and the rock. The average depth to the weathered rock is about 50 m across the site. Bedding and foliation in the rocks both dip to the west at similar orientations and are difficult to distinguish from on another. No significant faults have been identified within the project area. reducing to NQ when competent rock is reached. it is our opinion that the actual values are likely higher than those calculated. core recovery and hardness have been determined. incorporating engineering geology and rock mechanics information collected during GRC’s exploration program. Hydraulic conductivities in the weathered rock are -5 -3 estimated to be between 9x10 and 1x10 cm/s. Up to four additional joint sets have been identified from surface outcrop/trench mapping. Groundwater flow in this semi-confined aquifer will likely be predominantly controlled by fissures and joints. accurate estimates of RQD. Geotechnical Investigations BGC Engineering has been carrying out office and field studies since 1997 to refine pit slope angles for various designs proposed by GRC. The test pits were logged for stratigraphy and engineering properties. The logging is generally carried out in material below the saprolite zone. The weathered rock is generally identified by carbonate leaching. The following geomechanical parameters were assessed: • • • • • • • rock hardness (as per ISRM standards) core recovery RQD fracture frequency joint condition degree of breakage degree of weathering/alteration 6 Copyright © 2000 by SME . Mapping: Surface outcrops. A comprehensive approach to slope stability has been taken. The fresh rock is believed to act as an impermeable lower boundary. GRC has drilled 763 holes on the property. trenches and most small pits within the concession have been structurally mapped.SME Annual Meeting Feb. The fresh rock corresponds to unweathered versions of the andesite. Utah Bedrock at the Brisas del Cuyuni site consists of a sequence of metavolcanics composed of andesites. and generally conforms to the existing surficial topography. The majority of the drill holes are inclined to the east to intersect the mineralization across its dip. Consequently. The principal aquifer identified on the property is the weathered rock. However.

Based on point load testing and the rock mass rating conducted on the weathered rock. and a residual strength of ϕ=21. classifying it as a “fair” quality rock mass. Undrained Strength of Saprolite During the field investigations. disturbed samples of oxidized and sulfide stable saprolites were obtained from exploration drill core and from trenches. is shown in Figure 9. Point load testing was also undertaken on selected representative core using a Roctest point-load testing machine. Geotechnical Units Based on the engineering geology. to estimate undrained strengths for the saprolite (Figure 8). Su vs Depth Saprolite Samples 0 • • • liquid and plastic limits moisture content grain size distribution One undisturbed sample was transported to North America for direct shear testing. 1994).5°. The saprolite samples were sealed in plastic bags and containers and shipped to a Venezuelan laboratory for standard index and soil classification testing. in conjunction with field vane testing results. The results of drained shear testing on the saprolite indicated a peak strength of ϕ=25°. 20 40 Design Curve Sulfide Saprolite 60 Oxide Saprolite 80 Depth (m) 100 120 140 160 180 200 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 Shear Strength (kPa) Undrained Strengths Determined by BGC with Hand Vane in Test Pits Interpreted Undrained Shear Strength of Oxide Saprolite from triaxial testing undertaken by Abel (1997) Interpreted Undrained Shear Strength of Sulfide Saprolite from triaxial testing undertaken by Abel (1997) Figure 8. The index testing consisted of: The “weathered rock” geotechnical unit has been defined as the zone between the BZM and the base of weathering (BDM). Although the mixed zone often contains a significant amount of weathered rock. The rock mass strength curve for the weathered rock is shown in Figure 9. 28-Mar. placing it in the category of “very weak to weak” rock. but it generally has the consistency of a firm to very stiff soil. Six core samples with natural fractures from the weathered rock and fresh rock units were collected and transported to North America. Laboratory Testing: Extensive triaxial testing was carried out by others (Abel. it was considered appropriate to combine the two horizons. 1976) and rock mass strength (Hoek. For geotechnical purposes and slope stability assessments. it has an average unconfined compressive strength of 20 MPa. c’=0 kPa. It has a moderate degree of fracturing and the joints are generally open. Direct shear testing was carried out on two of these samples. This information was assessed and used. the “saprolite” unit has been defined as the material above the BZM marker. since the weaker materials will dictate the stability. trench mapping. Point load strengths were converted to unconfined compressive strengths for subsequent use in rock mass strength assessments. c’=50 kPa. 1. The design strength curve for the saprolite. The strength of the saprolite has been assigned to this unit. The testing indicated a shear strength (peak and residual) of ϕ= 35°. to determine if any strength anisotropy exists in the rock mass. Salt Lake City. 1997) prior to BGC’s investigations. The weathered rock has an ISRM hardness of R1 to R2. which includes both the saprolite and the mixed zone horizons. The distribution of the various geotechnical units on a typical section through the proposed pit is shown in Figure 7. and a RMR of 49. three geotechnical units have been defined according to similarities in engineering properties. geomechanics assessments and laboratory testing results. Diametral and axial testing along and across the foliation were carried out on split and un-split core. Utah The geomechanics information was recorded in a format amenable to entry into a computer database for statistical analysis and subsequent estimation of Rock Mass Rating (Bieniawski. based on drained direct shear testing and index testing. 7 Copyright © 2000 by SME .SME Annual Meeting Feb. highly weathered and have little infilling. The strength of the saprolite is highly variable. c'=0 kPa for discontinuities in both the weathered rock and the fresh rock.

SME Annual Meeting Feb. were grouped into structural domains. dipping towards 298°. To assess these types of instabilities. 1. Figure 9. Limit equilibrium stability analysis techniques were then used to estimate a Factor of Safety (FS) for each potential mechanism. The fresh rock is classified as a medium strong to very strong rock. Structural Domains and Design Sectors Areas with similar geologic structure. Certain failure modes are kinematically possible when the bench face. Geotechnical Unit Strength Curves The “fresh rock” geotechnical unit is generally unweathered. The foliations in Domain 2 have a peak dip of about 55°.e. along with any water pressures were calculated to determine a FS of any potential planar failures. with an ISRM hardness of R3 to R5. the shear strength of the saprolite or the rock mass are of primary importance. Instability in excavated rock slopes is commonly initiated along structural discontinuities in the slope. Note the difference in the estimated rock mass strength of the fresh rock between the NW and the SE sides of the pit. respectively). which have an average dip of about 42° 8 Copyright © 2000 by SME . such as the saprolite and the weathered rock. The rock mass strength curves for the fresh rocks are shown in Figure 9. interramp or the overall slope undercuts geologic structure (i. Domain 1 encompasses the southwestern one-third of the currently proposed pit (Figure 10). Based on the point load testing and the rock mass rating conducted on the fresh rocks. Several of the discontinuity sets observed in Domain 1 were absent or very weakly represented in Domain 2. planar) or the line of intersection of a combination of the discontinuities (i. particularly the central and northeastern portions. and is defined as the material below the BDM. The calculated FS values were then used to select allowable slope angles based on kinematics. Potential failure modes can be predicted by comparing the orientation of the discontinuities to the orientation of the proposed excavation. The weight of the block and the resisting forces along the sliding plane. This difference is due to the anisotropy of the rock mass strength parallel to and across bedding. Utah towards 288°. Salt Lake City. 28-Mar. The stability of potential wedges identified was analyzed using the commercially available computer program SWEDGE. Potential planar modes of instability were by assuming a simple sliding block of unit width. A total of sixteen design sectors were developed for the proposed open pit. The plots have been used to determine kinematically feasible failure mechanisms in each design sector of the proposed pit. the shear strength of the discontinuities are of primary importance. Three other weaker sets of cross joints. as shown in Figure 10. It generally has few fractures. The dominant structures in this domain are the foliations. In terms of rock mass quality. If a rock mass is highly fractured or of poor quality. Design Method Potential Modes of Instability. To assess these types of instability.e. and the joints are infilled with calcite. Two structural domains were identified in the pit area. Design sectors for the open pit were derived by combining structural domains and pit wall orientations. the fresh rock is classified as “good”. Varying degrees of sericitic alteration are present in the fresh rock. based on structural mapping information collected on the Brisas property. Structures mapped in Domain 2 have been used to represent the anticipated structure for most of the proposed pit. A bedding joint strikes sub-parallel to the foliation and dips approximately 60° to the northwest. dipping east and south were also identified. wedge). failure can occur along a rotational surface or through the rock mass. and a RMR of between 70 and 73. it has an average unconfined compressive strength of between 115 and 183 MPa (from the southeast and northwest sides of the proposed pits. Approach: Structural mapping information was plotted on lower hemisphere stereonets.

The average depth of the saprolites and/or weathered rock for each design sector was plotted on the design curves shown in Figure 11 to determine an allowable slope angle. Curves of slope angle vs. The allowable angle based on kinematic controls was compared to the allowable angle based on rotational/rock mass failure. a generic approach to the analysis was chosen. Due to the highly variable thickness of the saprolite and the weathered rock throughout the proposed pit area. and the lesser of the two angles was used for design. Design Curves for Saprolite and Weathered Rock (FS=1. RESULTS AND DESIGN ANGLES Saprolite In terms of kinematic analysis. 1. respectively.2). Figure 11. Most of the potential wedges identified 9 Copyright © 2000 by SME . 28-Mar. for several slope orientations. Conceptual Pit Design and Design Sectors The potential for rotational failures in saprolite and weathered rock was examined using chart solutions (Hoek and Bray. The potential for both rotational/rock mass failure and instability due to kinematic controls was assessed for each design sector. Salt Lake City.SME Annual Meeting Feb. numerous potential wedge and planar modes of instability were identified within the proposed pit area.2 were developed to assist in design (Figure 11). Utah Figure 10. 1981) and the slope stability software SLOPE/W. slope height for a specified (allowable) FS of 1. using the drained strength of the saprolite and the rock mass strength curve developed for the weathered rock (Figure 9).

Relict structures often act as planes of weakness. Due to the presence of relict structures. and the assumption that the saprolites can be fully dewatered. Pit design in areas of residual soils should incorporate the potential variability in geomechanical properties due to weathering into the design approach. The recommended average design angle for the o weathered rock is 45 . The high competency of the fresh rock. Pit slope designers are familiar with grouping pit slope sections into design sectors as part of a rational approach to design. even under completely dry conditions. with the exception of two structural domains (1B and 2I). and geologic age. in which kinematic constraints are expected to control the slope stability. indicate that interramp pit wall angles in excess of 55° may be possible. Weathering profiles have a large influence on the strength and permeability of a rock. it is likely that some element of structural control will exist in these rotational failures.0. topography. The rock mass failure analysis conducted indicated that the potential for rock mass or rotational failure in the weathered rock can be significantly reduced if the weathered rock can be partially dewatered. 1999). Domain 1) are predominantly kinematic (i. planar and wedge) failures. however. Achieving these angles will require successful dewatering of the pit wall in the upper slopes. 1. For preliminary planning and economic analysis. 55° is currently considered a reasonable upper bound for feasibility level planning. particularly for inter ramp slopes. Salt Lake City. This angle is based on an average depth to the weathered rock of 50m. for slope heights over about 20m in the saprolite. and their impact on pit wall stability are: • Weathering profiles are influenced by climate conditions. • • • • The anticipated modes of instability in the weathered rock in the southeast and southwest walls of the proposed pit (i. structure. Based on the current structural geologic information from Domain 2.SME Annual Meeting Feb. these are beyond the current scope of this project. the anticipated mode of potential instability along the northeast and northwest walls is rock mass failure. the main mode of potential instability in the saprolites. A majority of the potential wedges identified in the weathered rock have a FS <1. slope angles of less than 30° will be required. Fresh Rock Due to the limited structural data available for the fresh rock. parent rock type. and more sophisticated analyses techniques where stresses and slope deformations are assessed (Newcomen. Utah in the saprolite have a FS <1. Based on these assessments. is anticipated to be rotational failure. This indicates that wedges formed by discontinuities in the weathered rock will likely be unstable. The actual angle that can be achieved will also depend on the dominant influence of the overlying and underlying geotechnical units. Justification of steeper angles for a pit of the currently proposed depth (>350m) will require additional geotechnical information at greater depth. albeit with strength parameters for the discontinuities modified accordingly. In terms of rotational failure or shearing through the soil mass. et al. • At the Brisas del Cuyuni Project. 40° is considered to be a reasonable angle for prefeasibility level design in the saprolites. If they cannot be dewatered. and the apparent absence of any unfavorably oriented discontinuities. and Geotechnical engineers must collaborate closely with mine planners to produce a workable and practical mine plan where great variations in geomechanical properties are observed at a property. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS In summary. 28-Mar. the allowable slope angle is significantly reduced if dewatering of the slope is not completely achieved. design angles in some design sectors within Domain 2 cannot be accurately defined. Permeability of intact soil may be considerably less than the permeability of the in situ soil mass. which indicate that fewer kinematic controls exist.0 under completely dry conditions. the key features of residual soils and weathered rock. However.e. the results of engineering geology and kinematic assessments of 10 Copyright © 2000 by SME . Weathered Rock Similar discontinuity and pit wall orientations to those used for the saprolite were used to assess the stability of the pit wall in weathered rock.e. effective stress analyses using chart solutions for two groundwater conditions (dry and partially dewatered) indicate that. This indicates that wedges formed by relict structures in the saprolite will be unstable if they are undercut. This could result in complex modes of instability occurring.

“Mechanics of Residual Soils... pp... which is located in relatively strong. 237 p. 9. 319-339.A. “Rock slope engineering. 184 p. London.A. and Bray. R.W. Hydro-Triad. Venezuela. 1997.” September. 55-62. 12. Y.” The Geological Society.. 1979.” report to Gold Reserve de Venezuela.SME Annual Meeting Feb. 11. Puerto Rico. by E. 1982... H. 1971.T. 1988. and Burton. Tuncer. “Properties of some typical compacted th saprolites. Implementation of the design angles presented in this paper will require a concerted effort to dewater the saprolites and weathered rock.. 1997.. Vol... F.. Hawaii. Las Claritas.. additional structural geologic information is required at depth to confirm that kinematic controls are not a concern.. and Patton. 1999. 28-Mar. 1. P.” Scientific American. “Feasibility level open pit slope design for Brisas del Cuyuni Project. pp. “Tropical residual soils . 87-170. Hoek. T. E. R. B. 5. Newcomen. P. R. 226-241. 1981. 1994.. “Slope stability in residual soils. “Strength of rock and rock masses. 1996. pp. review of 250 million tonne pre-feasibility open pit. M. Newcomen. G. A. Hoek.C. Lima. “Soil science for the tropics. Newcomen. “Identification and classification of granitic residual soils using chemical nd weathering index. 240. 13.” Engineering and Construction in Tropical and Residual Soils.. 16. E. 6. Alberta.. Vol.U.T. University of Alberta. 143 p. Balkema Publishers. “Modern tools for assessing the stability of footwall slopes. (Volumes I and II).T.” Balkema. pp... E. March. BGC Engineering Inc. 583-591. Peru. H. J.” extract from Support of Underground Excavations in Hard Rock.. 17. Abel.” Proceedings of the 2 International Conference on Geomechanics in Tropical Soils. does not currently have any kinematic or rock mass constraints. Hydrogeologic Report. 1999. 8. .G.” Proceedings of Canadian Institute of Mining Workshop on Rock Mechanics and Ground Control in the Soft Rock and Coal Industries.S. 2. Sueoka.J. Fookes. pp.A geological society engineering group working party revised report. editor.” Engineering Geology.. 2.R. Kaiser and W.” Proceedings of the 4th Panamerican Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering. G. 1. 11 Copyright © 2000 by SME . Edmonton.E. “Brisas del Cuyuni Project. and Tape.T. Singapore. Honolulu.” April. and Porter.R.“ Proceedings of the Symposium on Exploration for Rock Engineering. 15.. Deere.F.” Proceedings of the 6 Panamerican Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering. March. the Netherlands.. 109-118. Vol. Bieniawski. A. 3.” December. REFERENCES 1. de Bare. 1976. “ Unpublished Master of Engineering Report. II-4. pp. 7. 1997. 30-57. 14. “Earthworks with wet. 4. K. Bawden. Vol. and Lohnes. Vol. Uehara. 26p. Z.W. D. Salt Lake City. G. 1997.. pp. fresh rock. BGC Engineering Inc. “An engineering classification for certain basaltderived lateritic soils. Revised Third Edition. “Brisas del Cuyuni. F. pp. 10. “Clay. H. and Pan. 1979. 1.. Hoek. “Brisas del Cuyuni mine – Recommended open pit slope angle design. 1977. J. Millot.F.. Blight. editor. Geotechnical Division Special Conference. Mori. London.” The Institution of Mining and Metallurgy. Utah the structural geology have been blended with rock mass stability analyses and soil mechanics analyses to develop design angles for proposed pit wall slopes in saprolites and weathered rock. However. “Rock mass classification in rock engineering. Burton.W.T. The steepness of a significant portion of the lower pit wall. San Juan. fine grained tropical residual soils. 97-106..D. E.