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Geotechnical characterisation

The geological and geotechnical models are foundations of any mine design. These models could also be the leading sources of technical risks for mining projects. In order to minimise these risks, it is necessary to reduce the uncertainty in understanding the geological context of the deposit.

With ever more sophisticated computer tools, it is possible to tackle more complex tasks in shorter times than before. However, with advanced computerisation, the mining industry also faces challenges concerning many designs that have been developed “in the office” without appropriate field data to support them and where the interpretation of drilling and mapping programs is poor. Today, project presentations are rich in eye-catching graphics, illustrating in 3D the geological models, stress distribution, etc., and creating the impression of reality and a full understanding of problems. Unfortunately, these impressions can often be misleading; the presented results may lack common geological and geotechnical sense, or are simply wrong.

The significance of using the appropriate geological and structural model is not always appreciated in characterising the geotechnical rock mass, which is often undertaken by engineers, not by geologists. On the other hand, geologists usually have a poor understanding of mine design processes, while engineers often disqualify the data collected at exploration stages at more advanced stages of the project. It is important to make sure that all disciplines, geology, geotechnical and mining engineering, are fully integrated and that both understand the mining method in order to produce reliable characterisations and increase confidence in the geotechnical analyses, numerical modelling and, finally, mine design.

Jarek Jakubec:

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