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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


CONTRERAS, L.F.. An economic risk evaluation approach for pit slope optimization. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2015, vol.115, n.7, pp.607-622. ISSN 2411-9717.

In open pit mine design, it is customary for geotechnical engineers to define the appropriate slope design angles within practical limits. The conventional approach to slope angle design is based on the comparison of calculated stability indicators, such as the factor of safety (FS) and the probability of failure (PF), with generic acceptability criteria not directly related to the impacts of failure. A major drawback of this type of approach is related to the difficulty of defining meaningful acceptability criteria. An alternative methodology of pit slope design is proposed, where the economic impacts of potential slope failures are calculated and used as the elements on which to apply the acceptability criteria for design. The methodology is based on the construction of a graph, referred to as a risk map, that relates the probability of exceeding the economic impact of slope failure to the magnitude of the impact measured in monetary terms. The process includes the analysis of a selected number of representative years of the mine plan and slope sections of the pit areas to define the required inputs for the construction of the risk map. The paper discusses the concepts used in interpreting the probability of slope failure, and describes the approach followed for the estimation of the economic impacts of slope failure and the construction of the risk map. Finally, the two main uses of the risk map are discussed, including the comparison with acceptability criteria for the evaluation of a specific open pit design and the comparative analysis of open pit design options in terms of value and risk to identify optimum pit layouts.

Keywords : risk evaluation; economic risk map; slope design; slope failure; probability of failure.

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