Steepening Pit Walls: Geotechnical and Economic Implications

Open Access

Year : 2021 | Volume : | Issue : 1 | Page : 45-57

    M. Affam

  1. P. Newton

  1. Associate Professor, Geological Engineering, University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa, Ghana
  2. Geological Engineering, University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa, Ghana


Current approach to pit-wall analysis tends to separate designs into distinct categories. The first consideration involves analysis of slope in which discontinuities actively participate in the failure mobilization. The second involves design analysis of non-structural controls which could results in a wide range of failure mechanisms. The third and the least sought for approach is the economic assessment of the slope design which could render optimized pit slope and the bench face angle scenarios economic or otherwise. The sensitivity of the third consideration has become imperative in the face of depleting pit reserves as any positive turn over in the economic analysis could revive distress mine operations. A typical operating pit sited west of Ghana’s metalogenic province which was near collapse due to ore depletion was re-designed through steepening of the slopes to expose more resource. Geotechnical, window and photogrammetry mappings were carried to augment the historical data available. Several numerical analytical tools were also employed to model the pitwall angles. Four steeper slopes were designed from the current BFA of 65° to 70°, 75°, 80° and 85°. This was done to assist in stability, reduce stripping ratio and improve cash flow. The results indicated that discontinuities steeply oriented towards east direction could make the slope highly susceptible to planer and toppling failures The studies concluded that it may not be feasible to steepen BFA from the current base angle due to the predicted steeper angles as a results of overall slope instabilities even though the potential economic benefit is substantial. If steepening would be considered, major modifications of slope geometry; rock improvement, extensive slope monitoring and a good groundwater control management mechanism may be required.

Keywords: Birimian, auriferous, pitwall, instability, failure, economic analysis, Batter face angle

[This article belongs to International Journal of Geological and Geotechnical Engineering(ijgge)]

How to cite this article: M. Affam, P. Newton Steepening Pit Walls: Geotechnical and Economic Implications ijgge 2021; 7:45-57
How to cite this URL: M. Affam, P. Newton Steepening Pit Walls: Geotechnical and Economic Implications ijgge 2021 {cited 2021 May 21};7:45-57. Available from:

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Regular Issue Open Access Article
Volume 7
Issue 1
Received November 26, 2020
Accepted January 20, 2021
Published May 21, 2021