Cerro Matoso Ferronickel Mine - Geotechnical evaluation of tailings dam

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Geotechnical evaluation of tailings storage facility

The Cerro Matoso S.A. Ferronickel mine (CMSA) is located in Montelíbano –Córdoba, Colombia. Ausenco performed a study to review geotechnical stability to actual geometry and deposition conditions of the mine's Sajana Tailings Storage Facility (TSF).

The original tailings dam design included the use of cyclones to deposit material on the Sajana basin area. CMSA faced difficulties with these cyclones and was unable to use them. This change created uncertainty in the geotechnical performance and future behavior of the TSF embankment.

Ausenco conducted a geotechnical desk-top study for the Sajana TSF based on information provided.

Ausenco's scope of work included:

  • Development of a geotechnical numeric model to compare original design with actual geotechnical conditions.
  • Development of a hydrogeological model including pore pressure assessment, flow direction and water table estimation.
  • Integration and calibration of the geotechnical and hydrogeological models.
  • A conceptual liquefaction analysis was conducted to identify potential tailings dam failure due to dynamic loading (earthquake).

A detailed study including geotechnical exploration of actual field conditions and a monitoring plan was recommended.

Project details

Mining engineering, Tailings and mine waste management
Montelíbano, Colombia
Business line
Environment & Sustainability
BHP Billiton – Cerro Matoso S.A
Solution phase
Evaluate, Innovate