Risk-Based Design and Management of Open Pit Slopes Workshop

29 October 2021 | Online and in-person | Ballroom A, Duxton Hotel, Perth, Western Australia

Within the mining community, geotechnical risk is often underappreciated, sometimes ignored and seldom properly quantified. The uncertainty and variability that engineers need to deal with necessitate a rigorous process of quantification or, in the very least, robustly qualifying likelihoods and consequences. The aim of this workshop is to provide a forum to discuss the methods used to design for geotechnical risk and those used to manage these risks; to identify shortcomings; and to close the gap between the state-of-the-art and the state-of-practice.

Participation in this event may contribute towards your professional development accreditation.
The ACG makes no guarantee of this and recommends you contact your respective professional organisation/s. The ACG can provide a certificate of attendance. Please contact info-acg@uwa.edu.au for details.

All timings are listed in Australian Western Standard Time (AWST). Check the time against your local time with this time zone converter.

View the list of attending companies here.


08:45 Welcome and introduction Professor Phil Dight, Australian Centre for Geomechanics
09:00 Overview of probability risk and design Associate Professor Johan Wesseloo, Australian Centre for Geomechanics
09:45 Design acceptance criteria for open pit slopes considering design confidence and epistemic uncertainty Dr Renato Macciotta Pulisci, University of Alberta, Canada
11:00 How to determine the minimal number of specimens required for laboratory testing of rock properties and support the classification of rock mass domains David Gaudreau, Newmont Australia
11:45 The importance of the geotechnical model in risk management – a design and operations perspective Dr Felicia Weir, PSM
12:30 LUNCH
13:30 Assessment of rockfall risk for mine slopes Mark Fowler, PSM
14:15 Uncertainty, design reliability and slope risk Michael Dunn, Debswana Diamond Company
15:30 Operational awareness to design risk and the value of monitoring and design validation Julian Venter, AngloGold Ashanti
16:15 Virtual twins: which risks can they avoid, mitigate or reduce likelihood? Dr Stephan Arndt, Dassault Systèmes

*Program subject to change

Professor Phil Dight
Professor Geotechnical Engineering
Australian Centre for Geomechanics

Phil has been involved with the development and design of ground support for mining applications since 1975. Phil joined the ACG in 2008 and has since been working on stress memory effects in rocks, ground support applications, slope stability problems (including the use of microseismicity to understand failure mechanisms), and 3D rock properties. In 2017, Phil commenced a four year MRIWA project aimed at investigating the issues of strainburst vulnerability in underground mines.

Presenters include:

Dr Stephan Arndt
Senior Industry Process Consultant, GEOVIA
Dassault Systèmes

Stephan is part of the global Industry Process Consulting team in Dassault Systèmes’ GEOVIA brand, providing business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. With over 25 years’ experience in advanced simulation methods in applications of rock mechanics, seismicity, discrete fracture networks, and coupled multi-physics simulations, he has been part of studies for major mining projects in Australia and overseas. His previous roles include associate professor and director mining and resources engineering at Monash University and managing teams specialised in geomechanics in mining and oil and gas. He is serving on the AusIMM Mining Society Committee 2020-2022, on the Australian National University Environmental Engineering Industry Advisory Board and is an active member of the American Rock Mechanics Association.

Michael Dunn
Principal Geotechnical Engineer
Debswana Diamond Company

Michael has 25 years’ mining geotechnical engineering experience in operational, corporate and consulting roles. He has experience in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Ghana, and the USA, covering a range of deep to near-surface underground mining methods and small to large open pits. Michael has held several senior roles at AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont and SRK Consulting. Michael has a strong interest in the geotechnical design process, especially with respect to understanding geotechnical uncertainty and managing geotechnical risk. Michael is a Fellow and Chartered Professional of the AusIMM and has published 28 technical papers.

Mark Fowler
Managing Director

Mark is a principal engineering geologist and director of PSM. Mark’s primary areas of practice are open pit and underground geomechanics and pore pressure assessments for large mining and civil projects that has included the development of a detailed knowledge of geomechanics monitoring and stress testing. On graduation from his undergraduate honours degree in 1994, majoring in engineering geology, Mark commenced his career as an engineering geologist with McMahon Associates, Sydney. A move to Atlanta USA to join Golder Associates in 1996 enabled the extension of his undergraduate research and development of azimuth control of hydraulic fracturing in soils and weak rock. Mark returned to Sydney in 1997 and continued his employment with Golder prior to joining PSM in 1998. In 2002, Mark completed a Masters of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of New South Wales, where he currently lectures part time to the schools of mining and civil engineering at postgraduate level. Mark has worked on over 50 major mining projects across Australia, Asia, Africa and the USA, including a number of very large and technically challenging projects including Olympic Dam open pit expansion and in the geothermal conditions at Lihir Gold Mine. Mark has worked on several prominent tunnelling projects within the Sydney transport sector, including large caverns with shallow cover for the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link.

David Gaudreau
Director Mining
Newmont Australia

David has over two decades of mining, geotechnical and mine production management experience. He serviced sites and projects in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, China, Laos and India. He was involved in several projects spanning diverse geographical areas for surface and underground operations, ranging from conceptual studies to mine closure planning and execution. David has had leadership roles in mine operations management, geotechnical engineering, technical services management as well as consulting. He joined Newmont in September 2017 as Director Mining for the Australian region.

Dr Renato Macciotta Pulisci
Assistant Professor
University of Alberta

Renato is an assistant professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Engineering Safety and Risk Management at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. He has a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Catholic University of Peru, and a PhD in geotechnical engineering from the University of Alberta. Renato has 12 years’ research experience and over 15 years of practical experience working in civil, mining, and risk engineering projects. His work has been published in 45 peer-reviewed journal publications, and over 40 conference proceedings.

Julian Venter
Manager Geotechnical Engineering
AngloGold Ashanti

Julian graduated from the University of Pretoria (UP) in 2000 with a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Subsequently, he obtained master’s degree in geotechnical engineering from UP in 2004, a graduate diploma in rock mechanics from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2007, followed by an MBa and a master’s degree in mineral economics from Curtin University in 2017. He started his working career with SRK Consulting in Johannesburg in 2002 where he gained a well-rounded geotechnical exposure to a variety of problems including open pit and underground mining and construction. For geotechnical risk work carried out at SRK, he was co-recipient of the SAIMM Gold medal in 2007 and co-recipient of the ARMA Award for Applied Rock Mechanics Research in 2009. In 2008 Julian and his family moved to Tom Price in Australia where he joined Rio Tinto’s Tom Price Iron Ore mine as senior geotechnical engineer. In 2016, Julian started with AngloGold Ashanti as geotechnical manager for the Continental Africa Region. Throughout his career Julian has served on open pit design teams in roles including contributor, technical lead, project manager, project director and third party reviewer for more than 200 open pits and cutbacks. Based on this experience, he has become a champion of rigorous data-based design processes based on a proper understanding of risk.

Dr Felicia Weir

Felicia is a principal engineering geologist of Pells Sullivan Meynink Pty Ltd, with over 12 years’ experience in her field. Felicia joined PSM after completing her PhD in geomorphology. Felicia’s primary areas of practice include engineering geology, 3D geotechnical models and stability assessments for open pit mining. Felicia enjoys a spectrum of projects from short-life operations to large-scale pits in complex risk settings. The development of accurate ground models and appropriate slope designs is her greatest pleasure. With recent work as acting geotechnical superintendent at Ok Tedi Mine she has a good appreciation of the challenges faced in operations. Felicia has worked on numerous major mining projects across Australia, Asia and Africa, including a number of large and technically challenging projects including the Olympic Dam Open Pit Expansion, Ok Tedi Mine operations and design in geothermal conditions at the Lihir gold mine.

Associate Professor Johan Wesseloo
Associate Professor and Director
Australian Centre for Geomechanics

Since obtaining a BEng (Civil) and MEng (Geotechnical) from The University of Pretoria, Johan has been involved in geotechnical engineering in open pit and underground environments throughout 14 countries. He commenced his career in 1998 as a geotechnical engineer at SRK Consulting in Johannesburg where his experience included open pit and underground projects in varying geotechnical conditions. In 2005 he was awarded a PhD (Geotechnical) from The University of Pretoria. Johan joined the Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG) in 2007 as a research fellow. During his time at the ACG, Johan has been involved in research, the supervision of postgraduate students, and geotechnical training. He also performs geotechnical and mining-induced seismicity reviews providing him with the valuable opportunity to visit numerous operations worldwide. Johan was instrumental in the development of the mXrap software and many of the software routines and apps available in that platform. Johan is a fellow of The Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM). He was awarded the SAIMM Gold Medal in 2006 and 2016, and the SAIMM Silver Medal in 2014. In 2019, Johan was appointed centre director of the ACG.