3D Modelling
slope design

FIG 3 – Highwall Rockmass Failure

Highwall Rockmass Failure

Unlocking the Potential of 3D Modelling for Coal Mine Slope Design

In the realm of open cut coal mining, geotechnical design assessments for excavated and dumped slopes have traditionally relied on simplistic two-dimensional (2D) limit equilibrium (LE) methodologies.

However, as mining operations have ventured into deeper and more complex terrains, this approach has proven limited, leading to oversimplified slope models and questionable assumptions. To address these challenges, the application of three-dimensional (3D) modelling has emerged as a game-changer, offering a more comprehensive and accurate evaluation of slope stability.

In this white paper, we shed light on the paradigm shift brought about by 3D modelling in open cut coal mining slope evaluation.

Over the past five years, we have witnessed a significant increase in the adoption of user-friendly software and a growing need to assess increasingly complex areas. The limitations of simplistic 2D LE modelling have become evident, often resulting in misrepresentations of potential failure mechanisms or overly conservative remedial solutions that carry unnecessary costs. Drawing on two recent case studies, we highlight the transformative power of 3D modelling and finite element (FE) methods in enhancing slope assessments.

In both instances, the initial slope assessment using a 2D LE model fell short, leading to either excessive and costly remedial measures or underestimation of potential slope failures. By subsequently employing 3D LE and FE methods, we were able to gain a deeper understanding of the structural complexities at play. Moreover, these advanced techniques aligned well with slope monitoring data, resulting in more realistic and reliable outcomes.

FIG 1 – 3D LEM Output for Endwall Assessment

3D LEM Output for Endwall Assessment

The transition from 2D to 3D modelling allows us to capture the intricacies of stress, geological structures, and groundwater regimes, which are crucial factors influencing slope stability. By stepping away from assumptions tied to a 2D plane and embracing the true three-dimensional nature of the problem, we provide our clients with a more accurate assessment, reducing both over-engineering and the risk of overlooking critical failure mechanisms.

At Encompass Mining, we recognise the importance of pushing the boundaries of traditional geotechnical design. Our commitment to employing state-of-the-art 3D modelling techniques reflects our dedication to delivering precise and cost-effective solutions for our clients. By partnering with us, you gain access to our expertise in 3D LE and FE modelling, ensuring that your coal mine slopes are designed and managed with a clear understanding of their structural complexities.

FIG 1 – 2D FE Output for Endwall Stability Assessment

2D FE Output for Endwall Stability Assessment


Embrace the future of coal mine slope design with Encompass Mining.

Together, we will revolutionise your approach, unlocking the true potential of 3D modelling to achieve safer, more efficient, and optimised mining operations. To read the full paper visit the link below.

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