Large Open Pit Mine Slope Stability Project

As from 01 July 2014 John Read retires from CSIRO and the ongoing management of the LOP Project will be transferred from CSIRO to the University of Queensland under the leadership of Dr Marc Ruest, who will resign from his geotechnical management position at DeBeers, Johannesburg, on 31 July 2014 to take up the position of Professor of Rock Mechanics in the Department of Civil Engineering at UQ.

Until further notice Marc can be contacted at marc.ruest@debeersgroup.com

From 01 July, John Read can be contacted at john.read75@bigpond.com

The LOP Project’s “Water Book”, Guidelines for Evaluating Water in Pit Slope Stability, has been completed and is now available in the Public Domain.

Details of the book, as well as the ability to place online orders, can be found on the CSIRO Publishing web address www.publish.csiro.au/pid/6843.htm

October 2011 update: E-book now available click here

The Large Open Pit Mine Slope Stability Project addresses an industry wide need for improved knowledge of the mechanisms of rock slope failure.

The project focuses on the relationships between rock mass strength and deformability.  Innovative geomechanics research is examining potential new definitions of rock mass strength criteria, the effects of pore pressures on slope failure mechanisms, and how slope failures may develop and propagate through the jointed rock mass.  The research will deliver a better understanding of the mechanisms of slope failure and new tools for the slope design practitioner, including:

A new generation of pit slope design guidelines directed at topics including the fundamentals of slope design, field and laboratory data acquisition, rock mass characterisation, preparing the geotechnical model, assessing and reporting data uncertainty, slope design acceptance criteria, performance assessment and slope monitoring techniques, controlled blasting, risk management, and open pit closure


Rock mass strength determination using a Synthetic Rock Mass Model (SRM) that uses intact rock strength and jointing data to construct an “equivalent material” envelope that honours the strength of the intact rock and joint fabric within the rock bridges that may occur along a candidate failure surface in a closely jointed rock mass.  Importantly, the SRM model can be applied to different sample sizes, making it possible for the first time ever to demonstrate the effect of scale and defect orientation on the strength of the rock mass


Fully coupled modelling of transient flow within a closely jointed rock mass environment, including variation in pore pressures as the slope is excavated


3D structural modelling and slope failure analysis tools, including a modified PFC3D procedure based on lattice mechanics that incorporates the SRM concept and coupled flow deformation behaviour which will run 10 times faster and handle larger models than the current PFC3D or equivalent simulations, thus enabling direct modelling of significant portions of a real slope

Update November 2009

The "Guidelines for Open Pit Slope Design" book is now available for sale in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa through CSIRO Publishing. Customers can order by contacting the CSIRO Publishing customer service team or via its e-shop:

Guidelines for Open Pit Slope Design: http://www.publish.csiro.au/pid/6108.htm

CSIRO Publishing customer service:
Tel: +61 3 9662 7666
Local Call: 1300 788 000 (for the cost of a local call within Australia)
Fax +61 3 9662 7555
email: publishing.sales@csiro.au

Customers in all other parts of the world can purchase the book from CRC Press: http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9780415874410

Update September 2009


Santiago , Chile , November 09-11 2009-09-10

For the technical program please click here

To register for the conference go to www.slopestability.cl

Update November 2008

Since the October 2006 Sponsors Management meeting in Antofagasta, Chile, when it was agreed to incorporate the research tasks identified for the project's Risk Management Guidelines within the Design Guideline research tasks, Sponsor Management meetings have been held in Adelaide (South Australia), Salt Lake City (USA), Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and Paris (France).  At the meeting in Belo Horizonte, the project’s rock mass strength research plan was expanded from the original objective of providing new ways of assessing rock mass strength to include research directed at assessing the effects of pore pressures on the strength and stability of closely jointed rock

In 2009, meetings will be held in April, in Perth (West Australia) and in November, in Santiago (Chile).  The meeting in Santiago will be held in conjunction with the 2009 International Symposium on Rock Slope Stability in Open Pit Mining and Civil Engineering.  The symposium will held at the University of Los Andes during November 09-11 and will feature the public release of the LOP Project’s book “Guidelines for Open Pit Slope Design”.  The book will be published in English and Spanish.