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The landslide of mine waste at Dagushan in Anshan, China occurred on November 12th, 2014.


Google Earth image of the site of the 2014 mine waste landslide at Dagushan in China.

The author of The Landslide Blog is Dave Petley, a renowned expert in the research and handling of landslides.

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A massive landslide, measuring 8.45 million cubic metres, took place on November 12, 2014 at the Dagushan open-pit iron mine in Anshan, China. The incident happened in a large mine waste pile that had been active from 1955 to 2007 and spanned approximately 3.5 km². 2

The storage facility contains more than 300 million cubic meters of mining waste.

A recent study published in the journal Landslides (Sun et al. 2023) discusses a landslide event. The researchers examined the causes of the failure using laboratory experiments and simulations. The published paper features a photograph depicting the aftermath of the landslide.

The aftermath of the 2014 mine waste landslide at Dagushan in China.

The consequences of the 2014 landslide of mine waste at Dagushan in China. Picture sourced from Sun et al. (2023).

In November 2013, Google Earth captured high-quality images of the area prior to the occurrence of the landslide.

Google Earth image of the site of the 2014 mine waste landslide at Dagushan in China.

The location of the 2014 mining disaster at Dagushan in China as seen in a Google Earth image.

The landslide had a maximum size of 890 meters by 550 meters. As stated by Sun et al. (2023), it caused damage to transportation infrastructure, including roads, railways, pipelines, and transmission towers on the slope of the waste dump. In addition, numerous buildings, equipment, and vehicles at the base of the waste dump were buried. Fortunately, there were no fatalities or injuries from the incident.

This cross-section from Sun et al. (2023) reveals the intriguing nature of this landslide.

A cross-section of the 2014 mine waste landslide at Dagushan in China.

A visual representation of the 2014 landslide of mine debris at Dagushan, China. Image sourced from Sun et al.’s study in 2023.

The waste from the mine was placed on top of a layer of silty clay that naturally existed with a slight slope parallel to the original slope. When the clay layer became saturated, it became weak and caused the landslide. This resulted in a shear plane at the base, allowing the rest of the slope to deform. The diagram above shows the biggest back edge of the landslide, but it is important to note that the upper portion of the slope also failed. It is possible to predict how the shear plane would have extended through the clay layer as it thinned out.

The likelihood of failure due to insufficient basal layers under mine waste is often underestimated. This brings to mind the Hatfield – Stainforth landslide in the UK in February 2013, where coal mine waste caused failure by saturating the gravel.

The problem of mine waste failures continues to be a pressing concern, but there are indications that the industry is becoming more mindful of it.

Reference

In 2023, Sun, Sw., Liu, L., Yang, and colleagues will work towards gaining a comprehensive understanding of a significant landslide that occurred at a mine waste dump in Anshan, China. This research will be published in the journal Landslides under the title “Toward a Sound Understanding of a Large-Scale Landslide at a Mine Waste Dump, Anshan, China,” with a DOI of https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-023-02136-1.

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Text © 2023. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

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