A Conceptual Geotechnical Model for Kao Kimberlite Mine, Lesotho, Southern Africa

Coetsee, S. A. (SRK Consulting)


ABSTRACT: The paper presents the methodology applied for the compilation of a conceptual level geotechnical model for Kao Mine in Lesotho. The assumption was made whereby the geology, structure, rock mass and hydrogeological conditions of the Jurassic basalt country rock and the Cretaceous kimberlite ore body at Kao are similar to that of other excavations in the same materials from a number of selected projects. The data comparison illustrates that the local structure (major and minor) and rock mass characterisation reflect known regional and local data trends. Although site specific mechanical testing is currently not available, site observation indicates little difference between the values presented from the selected projects and the anticipated properties at Kao. Therefore the values presented have been accepted at the level of a conceptual study. The geo- technical model presented for Kao provides adequate information for a conceptual level slope design. 1 INTRODUCTION Kao Kimberlite mine, an open pit operation is located in the northeast of the Kingdom of Lesotho in the Butha-Buthe district. The nearest towns are Ha Lejone and Mokhotlong which are 25 km south and 60 km southeast of the mine respectively. The principal components of a geotechnical model comprise data collated from the geological, structural (macro and micro), rock mass (material strength properties) and hydrogeological models. The conceptual level geotechnical model for Kao Mine has been developed based on the level of geotechnical data required per project stage as outlined in Read & Stacey (2009). These guidelines are not absolute, as specific requirements are dictated by the project location, the level of the study and the data acceptance criteria adopted by the operating company. The methodology of applying known rock mass characterisation data derived from a number selected project sites to Kao is presented here, which represents a departure from the methodology outlined in Read & Stacey (2009). 2 THE GEOLOGICAL MODEL The geological model for Kao has been developed from several publications documenting the kimberlite domains, (Rolfe and Clement in Nixon, 1973). A 3D geological model of the Main and Satellite pipes was compiled by Namakwa Diamonds Limited (NDL) using Vulcan in 2010, with regular updates to include in-pit geological mapping and the re-logging of exploration drillcore. The most recent version of the geological model was compiled by Ward & Fourie (2014).

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