Assessment of the effects of vegetational cover on the long-term stabilityof a waste rock dump


REM, Int. Eng. J.




Abstract Waste rock dump reclamation includes re-grading the banks to flatten the overall slope followed by re-vegetation. These measures are required to reduce surface erosion, provide physical stability, and meet future use goals. In some cases, the presence of trees can cause localized shear zones in a waste rock dump by the load of the tree mass and the action of wind, the presence of roots in the soil and the death of some species. In geotechnical assessment, however, the influence of trees on slope stability of waste rock dumps is only qualitative. This article assesses the effects of trees on slope stability of a reclaimed waste rock dump of an iron ore mine. Historic data of construction, laboratory tests, and stability analysis were evaluated. Slope stability assessments were performed after an extensive geotechnical and forest campaign, considering two scenarios - the final waste rock dump without the vegetational cover and the final waste rock with vegetational cover. Tree vegetation in slopes produces both positive and negative effects on slope stability. For scenario 1, the lowest factor of safety occurs for a potential failure surface near the bottom of the waste dump, passing by a layer 6 m depth from the surface. In scenario 2 the factor of safety is increased by 10%. For deeper failure surface, the smallest factor of safety occurs 30 m deep. However, very tall trees at the top of the waste dump are subject to wind action, which has a negative impact on slope stability.

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