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INFLUENCE OF HYDROTHERMAL ALTERATIONS ON THE STABILITY OF AN OPEN PIT MINE IN SOUTHERN PERU: A CASE STUDY

Por: Sergio Castro Chunga, ingeniero geomecánico de Anddes.


Abstract

Hydrothermal solutions considerably modify the physical and mechanical properties of rocks, and consequently have an impact on the pit slope stability; however, this effect is sometimes not sufficiently considered in an open pit slope design and that causes the geotechnical model available to be only based on the existing lithology. This could cause, during mining, variable and poor rock mass qualities to be observed with respect to those assumed in the design.  

This creates the need to redesign the pit slopes based on additional geotechnical investigations, such as surface mapping on existing benches and complementary geotechnical drilling, to develop or update the geotechnical model based on hydrothermal alterations and then carry out the physical stability analysis of slopes (factor of safety, probability of failure and displacement).

The case study presented in this paper shows that the zonation in terms of hydrothermal alteration types is required when there is a strong influence of this phenomenon, but also needs to be accompanied by a zonation based on variability of rock strength in each alteration type, since the effect can be very intense up to transform the rock in residual soil.


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