Designing safer open pit mines

Following years of ongoing research into the stability of rock slopes, we have helped redefine large open mine pit design for reliable mine slopes. This research is minimising loss of life, equipment damage and sustained production losses in the event of mine slope failure.

The Challenge

Slope failure presents huge risks

Slope failure in a large open pit mine can cause costly losses of operation time and productivity. In a worst case scenario, it can result in injury and death.

Mt Whaleback open cut iron ore mine. Newman, WA.

In the next 10 years, large open pit mines are expected to reach depths of more than one kilometre.

Slope design practitioners are facing critical gaps in their knowledge of the factors contributing to slope failure.

Our Response

Working with the global industry

We applied our expertise in the field of slope stability and open pit mining geomechanics to design world-best practice.

Sponsored by 12 mining companies representing the majority of the world’s diamond and base metals producers, we carried out large open pit research to address an industry-wide need to improve understanding of rock slope stability.

We have produced four books to guide professionals in the investigation, design and construction of stable rock slopes in collaboration with our partners

The Results

Guiding best practice

Our first book Guidelines for Open Pit Slope Design was released in 2009 and has changed the way the mining industry approaches open pit slope design.

It provides best practice guidance around how to maximise safety, ore recovery and financial return, for the required life of the mine.

Globally acknowledged, the ongoing research is delivering new knowledge and design criteria and is improving methods for predicting the reliability of slopes at depths in the range of 1,000 metres.

After 10 years of success in this area, we have handed over management of the large open pit project, to a team led by Dr Marc Ruest at University of Queensland.


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